A Gaithersburg elementary school is one step closer to beginning construction on a new building and outdoor amenities.
The Gaithersburg Planning Commission unanimously approved a preliminary site plan Wednesday for the revitalization project planned at Brown Station Elementary School, 851 Quince Orchard Blvd.
“I think that Brown Station has pretty much outlived its current structure and its current usefulness in terms of educational program flexibility,” said Craig Shuman, director of construction for Montgomery County Public Schools. “So this is an opportunity for us to expand and provide the students and the community itself with a wonderful educational facility.”
Under the plan, a three-story, 106,529-square-foot building will be constructed to replace the 58,338-square-foot structure that currently sits on a nine-acre site, according to James Song, director for the school system’s Department of Facilities Management. The plan also calls for three new playgrounds, basketball courts/blacktop, two youth softball fields and an all-purpose field.
Two separate parking lots would be built; one to accommodate buses and the other for car drop-offs.
“We’ve managed to separate the bus traffic from the parent drop-off, or the student drop-off traffic, which makes our site even more safe,” Shuman said.
Song said the entire project is estimated to cost about $19.5 million.
Built in 1969, the school has only undergone minor modifications in the more than four decades it has been open, according to planning documents.
The building’s capacity is 446 students, but it is serving 533 students in prekindergarten through fifth grade this year. Enrollment is expected to steadily climb, reaching 596 students by 2019-2020 school year, according to the school system’s 2013-2014 Schools at a Glance report.
Construction on the new school was scheduled to be completed in August 2016, but due to county budget restraints, the project has been delayed. The building is now on track to open in August 2017.
While the school site is under construction, students will be relocated to a holding facility, Shuman said. Emory Grove Center, at 18100 Washington Grove Lane, will house the students, he said.
Many of the planning commissioners offered positive remarks about the plan.
“It’s a great design,” Commissioner Matthew Hopkins said. “I love the way you took advantage of the topography. I just think it fixes a large pile of problems with the current building.”
Commissioner Danny Winborne, a former PTA president at the school and parent of children who attended the school, said he is pleased with the planned renovations for the building.
“It’s so exciting what you’re doing to the building,” he said.
Principal Carl Baskerville said the school community is excited to see plans for the new building come together.
“Our building is more than 40 years old. Even though it has served us well, there are some things that don’t work as well as they did 40 years ago,” he said. “We are really looking forward to the new building and all that comes with it.”