Invest in more schools
The Oct. 13 Metro article “County school enrollment tops previous records” brought needed attention to the increased enrollment and crowding of Montgomery County schools. Our neighborhood school, Ashburton Elementary, has capacity for about 650 students. Enrollment exceeds 900 — representing a 57 percent increase since 2007. Unfortunately, the county’s solution to crowding is to build even bigger schools on existing sites. In fact, Montgomery County Public Schools is considering an addition to Walter Johnson High School to bring its capacity to 3,200.
This strategy is in sharp contrast to the “Final School Size Study Report: Impact of Smaller Schools,” published this summer by the Maryland State Department of Education. That report made the following recommendations: elementary schools no larger than 700 children, middle schools capped at a 900-student capacity and high schools to be built for a maximum of 1,700 students. Most schools in our area are larger than these recommendations already, and the county continues to approve new development projects that bring in even more students.
Unless the county gets creative, schools will continue to suffer from crowding. The long history of high-quality education here will suffer, and so will property values. The county needs to invest in more schools, not bigger ones, before approving more development.