Julius West PTSA Sees Expansion Options
Three options being considered as part of effort to deal with overcrowding.
Julius West Middle School settled on three potential options on Thursday for expanding the school building to deal with projected overcrowding.
A Facility Advisory Committee presented the expansion options to the community on Thursday, as part of a PTSA meeting.
More than 20 people attended the hour-long meeting, including Principal Nanette Poirier and PTSA President Dianne Benjamin. Other attendees included PTSA members, parents of students, stakeholders and architects working on the project.
“It was good to see how they’re trying to minimize the impact [of the construction] while the kids are here,” said Nancy Downing, the PTSA treasurer.
Gary Mosesman, senior project manager with Smolen-Emr-Ilkovitch Architects, Inc., presented three possible expansion options, which had been introduced in previous meetings. All three options would include the addition of a two-story academic wing to the main building, although the preferred option would take up the least amount of space—29,443 square feet—and would only need one classroom replacement.
“We have to make sure that everything we take away will have a replacement,” Mosesman said.
All the options include plans to add two more tennis courts and auxiliary gyms to the campus, said Mosesman. They also call for separating the student drop-off and bus loop-offs by giving them independent entrances and exits.
The meeting was the last of five work sessions meant to determine the feasibility of expanding the school.
“The architect needs to do cost estimates of the three options and put together a report that will be used as the basis for this project,” said Jim Tokar, project manager for the county school system. “And that will be submitted to the [county] Board of Education this fall for them to make a decision on. If they decide to move this project forward, then we’ll go into the design phase.”
The design phase would last 18 months, Tokar said. As with the feasibility study, the design phase also would begin with a series of community meetings.
“It’s another opportunity to take a fresh look at what can be done with the site,” he said.
After the design phase concludes, construction would take another 18 months, said Poirier, who is the FAC chairwoman.
“I think it’s encouraged participation from stakeholders and I think it has been very transparent up to this point,” Poirier said of the feasibility study.
Expansion feasibility studies are being conducted at other schools in the Richard Montgomery cluster in an attempt to relieve overcrowding.
“All four of our elementary schools are over capacity,” said Cheryl Moss Herman, a Richard Montgomery cluster co-coordinator with the Montgomery County Council of PTAs.
Julius West is projected to exceed capacity by 362 students in 2016. Studies determining the feasibility of expanding Twinbrook and Beall elementary schools are still underway. A study determining the feasibility of adding a new elementary school at the former Hungerford Park Elementary School site on W. Edmonston Drive, is also being conducted.