Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Future upcounty school sites selected

School board says more schools are needed to handle Clarksburg’s growing population

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The county school board approved sites for two future upcounty schools on Tuesday.

Without discussion, the board agreed to accept a site selection committee recommendation of a 22-acre middle school site at the intersection of Skylark and Ridge roads in the Arora Hills development of Clarksburg.

‘‘Middle school enrollment in the Clarksburg cluster has increased significantly this past year and is projected to grow through the six-year [capital budget],” school Superintendent Jerry D. Weast wrote in a memorandum to the board.

Enrollment at Rocky Hill Middle School, the only middle school in the cluster, is at 1,162 students, which is more than 200 over capacity, according to the school system.

Within the next six years the school system projects enrollment will grow by almost 300 students.

To alleviate overcrowding at John T. Baker Middle School in Damascus, students from Lois P. Rockwell Elementary School in Damascus currently attend Rocky Hill, but return to the Damascus Cluster for high school. The new school would also affect the Damascus Cluster.

The board also accepted a 13- acre parcel recommended by a site selection committee for a future Clarksburg elementary school No. 9. The eighth elementary school in the cluster is scheduled to open in August 2009.

The 1994 Clarksburg Master Plan calls for six new elementary schools to handle the expected population of the planned community. With the addition of Little Bennett two years ago and the new elementary school, four more are still needed.

Most of the elementary schools in the cluster will be over capacity within a year of the opening of Clarksburg No. 8.

Elementary school enrollment is projected to increase by 650 students, or the size of one elementary school, within six years, according to school system figures.

The elementary school site is in Clarksburg Village at the intersection of Grand Elm Street and Snowden Farm Parkway in the Clarksburg Village development. A portion of the site will also be used for a community park.

The developers of Clarksburg Village and Arora Hills were required to set aside the parcels for future school sites as a condition for site plan approvals by the county Planning Board, so the school system will receive the land free of charge.

The school system long-range budget includes money to determine the feasibility, scope and cost of the new schools, but no construction money has been allocated.

Staff Writer Titus Ledbetter III contributed to this report.