Westland Overcrowding & the New Middle Schoool

Westland overcrowdingI recently attended a community meeting covering the topic of Westland Middle School overcrowding and the options out there for the new middle school.

The new middle school is scheduled to open in August of 2017.  The site selection (quite contentious to date) is expected to be resolved in the Spring of 2012.  Beginning in the 2017/2018 school year, Chevy Chase and North Chevy Chase Elementary Schools will no longer house 6th grade classrooms.

If your child is currently in Kindergarten (2011-2012), they will be in the first class of 6th graders from CCES or NCC to attend middle school.

A minimum of 10-acres is needed for the new middle school site.  Most of the proposed public sites have been eliminated, leaving Rock Creek Hills local park (in Kensington) and North Chevy Chase local park (off of Jones Bridge near Connecticut Ave). There are 3 private sites up for consideration, as well, though they seem to be a closely held secret.  My guess is that these are not valid options due simply to the costs associated with purchasing 10+ acre tracts. I also believe that given the nightmare traffic scene near the new Walter Reed site, the NCC local park site will be eliminated. No need to add to or fight the traffic. I think we’ll end up at the Rock Creek/Kensington site.

The current population at Westland is 1,159 students. Projected enrollment (including the two “Chases”) is 1,600.  The new middle school will have a capacity for 900 students.

Though the site will be chosen in the Spring of 2012, the ultimate division of middle schoolers will not be announced until Spring of 2016 (i.e., will Bethesda Elementary kids go to Westland or the new middle school?). Speaking as a real estate agent, this has far-reaching implications on house sales.  I’ve had a number of clients react negatively to the uncertainty of the schooling “future”, and concentrate their searches in neighborhoods that have firmer footing. Thankfully, school representatives have expressed a desire to avoid any split articulation, so for now it’s safe to speculate that graduates of any given elementary school will move as a whole to their new middle school.

There have been a number of panels recently with a slew of neighborhood representatives all “voting” on future sites.  These committees will advise the superintendent on their recommendations.  Ultimately, the Board of Education will decide where the new middle school resides.

Stay tuned!