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The original item was published from 6/6/2014 3:40:34 PM to 6/30/2014 10:40:12 AM.

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Posted on: June 6, 2014

[ARCHIVED] Message From Mayor Kathy Strom Regarding CCES Portables

As we reported in the June Forecast, the Town recently learned of plans by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) to install two portable classrooms at Chevy Chase Elementary School (CCES) this summer. Upon learning of these plans, I asked Todd Hoffman, Town Manager, to reach out to MCPS officials. In the initial meeting with MCPS representatives, Todd and I noted the existence of an agreement between the MCPS and the state regarding the use of this open space and the need for MCPS to consult with the state before any plans are made. The agreement exists because of state funds that were used to improve the playground and ball field years ago (the Town also contributed to that project). We raised, as well, the concern that there is a common perception that portable classrooms often become permanent structures. At no time did the Town threaten a lawsuit regarding this issue.

Following this meeting, James Song, Director of Facilities Management, requested another meeting with Town officials to discuss the plans. Mr. Song explained the need for additional classroom space at CCES given projected enrollment numbers. He also explained that the portable classrooms were only necessary as a short-term solution while a new middle school is under construction. As well, he clarified that the portables would actually be on a portion of the ball field because parts of the asphalt area would be needed to construct the access points to the portable classroom. I did raise concerns about the impact to the fields and in general the open space adjacent to the school. At this meeting, Mr. Song agreed to the installation of only one portable classroom at CCES, and agreed to having it removed once the new middle school is completed (in three years). As part of this plan, he indicated that the existing computer lab could be converted into classroom space and that MCPS could deploy WiFi throughout the school in order to ensure no loss of educational services provided by the lab.

This morning I asked Todd Hoffman to contact Mr. Song to verify that MCPS and the Town are on the “same page” with respect to the plan that we agreed to. Mr. Song stated the following:

MCPS will deploy WiFi throughout CCES before converting the computer lab to a classroom. No educational services provided by a computer lab will be lost. He specifically noted, “In fact, there will be improvements to the existing facility, as every classroom will become a computer lab.”

Unfortunately, the portable classroom will still be constructed on a portion of the ball field adjacent to the asphalt “wall ball” court. However, because only one portable will be in place, the impact is less than originally planned.

The Town never asked MCPS to delay construction of the portable or remove it to accommodate the Town’s July 4 event. When we determined that the portable construction may impact the Town’s plans for this event, we relocated the event to the Lawton Center.

MCPS is very eager to make improvements to the school, and the Town is very grateful for MCPS’s willingness to work with us to develop a plan that addresses both the needs of the school and minimizes the impact to the playing fields and open space in that area.

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