Montgomery Co. leaders discuss plans for school development

WASHINGTON — Montgomery County, Maryland is gearing up for major development in the neighborhoods surrounding Walter Johnson, Walt Whitman and Bethesda Chevy Chase high schools. That growth will affect not only the high schools, but all the schools that feed into them, known as school clusters.

Because of the growth projected as part of the county’s Westbard, Lyttonsville and downtown Bethesda redevelopment, county council officials — along with the chair of the county planning board — are asking Montgomery County Interim School Superintendent Larry Bowers for more information about the school system’s plans for growth.

In his briefing with reporters on Monday, outgoing County Council President George Leventhal talked about the redevelopment plans in the downcounty area.

“Constituents in that part of the county are expressing a lot of concern about school capacity,” Leventhal said.

Leventhal said he and two other council members, Craig Rice and Roger Berliner, joined Casey Anderson, Chair of the County Planning Board, to ask specifically about properties the school system leases and whether those are in the pipeline to be developed as future schools.

Leventhal talked to reporters at the final briefing of his term as Council President. Council member Nancy Floreen will replace Leventhal as president as the new council session resumes on Tuesday.

Asked about another change in leadership — Metro’s new general manager started work on Monday — Leventhal ticked off the challenges facing incoming Metro GM Paul Wiedefeld: “Big operating budget problems, big capital budget problems, years and years and years of deferred maintenance — the system’s falling apart. It needs a huge infusion of cash.”

Leventhal, who says he knows and respects Weidefeld as the former head of the Baltimore Washington International Airport, says he wishes Weidefeld the best of luck. His tone suggested Weidefeld will need it as Leventhal said, “Boy, he’s got my sympathy because he’s taking on a tough, tough job!”

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