The Impact of School Infrastructure in MCPS Policy Paper
Importance of Proper Infrastructure
Up to date Infrastructure can have a lasting, positive impact on the success a school is able to generate. In a school with updated technology and infrastructure students can feel welcomed in their learning environment, leading to improved attendance and heightened interest levels of students and teachers in the learning experience. As new communities pop up and existing communities grow in our county, our current schools begin to play an even more important role.
As the Clarksburg community grew rapidly in the late 90s to present day, it was important that construction began on a new high school for the students within the community. The opening of Clarksburg High School in 2004 helped solve problems in that area by relieving overcrowding from the smaller, aging Damascus High School. As that community continues to grow, the construction of new elementary and middle schools continues to solve the ongoing overcrowding problems. These new schools are outfitted with the newest technology in order to improve the learning environment for the school. With larger hallways and additional classrooms in the most updated schools in the county, like Seneca Valley, students are placed in some of the best conditions to succeed.
With these news schools being built, even more students are able to access the proper infrastructure that they need. In fact, the completion of the new Seneca Valley High School increased enrollment abilities by over one thousand students.
Current Infrastructure Problem in MCPS
There is an inequity in which schools and areas get the funding they need to properly update their infrastructure. High schools like Damascus and Magruder have not seen a major renovation since the 1970s. Magruder high school has not seen a major renovation since its opening in 1970. There is a disparity in school infrastructure funding between the up and down county areas.
In 2018, a new 88,000 square foot addition intended to be a dance studio opened at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, which cost the county over 30 million dollars to construct. The completion of this project was followed by the opening of a new athletics facility for the high school. Projects like these show where the priority is for the Board of Education. The Board is focusing on funding these projects for schools with infrastructure that is already up to date, rather than fixing the crumbling infrastructure in the northern area of the county.
Many schools around the county are suffering from infrastructure problems that are causing unsafe learning conditions. With the presence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the existence of faulty infrastructure is becoming more of a problem. With students back to school in person this fall, schools need the proper funding in order to update their ventilation systems to ensure a covid free learning environment. Schools like Damascus and Poolesville were already having to face the issue of asbestos in their buildings, but now it is an even bigger issue to those schools as it is difficult to prevent covid outbreaks within their buildings due to faulty ventilation.
Solution to the Infrastructure Problem in MCPS
The recently released 2021-2026 Capital Improvements program is not a proper solution to the infrastructure problems in our county. This plan still leaves out schools in desperate need of a major renovation and funds unnecessary projects. There is still no guarantee that schools on the list will be given the renovation that they are expecting.
The best solution to the problem is having a list of schools and giving them a rating from 1-100 (1 being the worst condition a school can be in) in order to assess the need for renovation funding. It is necessary that there be experts going into schools to be able to properly evaluate the conditions the buildings are in. Schools with the worst conditions need to be higher on the list for funding. The county has to be able to assess if it is more important to build an entirely new building, rather than to continue renovating. Giving new buildings to certain schools, like Damascus, can relieve the problem of overcrowding in certain areas by moving certain students to a larger building.
The new infrastructure being built also needs to have a positive impact on the environment. This could be accomplished by having school buildings partially or entirely powered by solar energy. The addition of these projects can also have a positive impact on the county through the increase in job numbers needed for the completion of these projects.
In the end, we need to fix our school infrastructure problems across the county. We need to make sure that we fund what is necessary and avoid what is not. Solving these problems is for the betterment of the safety for our students and teachers and the improvement of their learning environment.
Gaines, Danielle. “Take a Look Inside the New Addition at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High.”
BethesdaBeat, July 27, 2018. https://bethesdamagazine.com/bethesda-beat/schools/take-a-look-inside-the-new-addition-at-bethesda-chevy-chase-high/
Lewis, Kevin. “MCPS Crumbling from Within, Says Parents and Students.” WJLA, November 12,
“Capital Improvements Program/Master Plan.” Montgomery County Public Schools, Accessed
August 5, 2021
“Seneca Valley High School Revitalization-Expansion.” Montgomery County Public Schools,
Accessed July 31, 2021
“The Importance of having good school infrastructure.” Development Bank of Latin America,
October 4, 2016
Written by Nick Spring