by Genevieve Demos Kelley
What renovations does your child’s school need? Precisely how overcrowded or underutilized is your school building? Which facility improvement projects in the county should have highest priority?
The Master Plan Support Project (MPSP) final report, now available online, details an in-depth facilities assessment conducted during the 2014-2015 school year by the consulting firm Brailsford and Dunlavey. The document reports on the educational adequacy and overall condition of school facilities across the county and includes detailed recommendations for capital improvement projects. Each school is assigned a priority ranking, so that the most urgent needs will be addressed first. The report also recommends 29 school closures and eight new school construction projects1. In all, $8.5 billion of capital improvements projects are recommended over the next 20 years.
Find the Report for Your School
Volume Two of the report contains an Educational Adequacy Field Report for each school built before 1999. Each school’s report contains several pages of notes, scores, and charts evaluating the adequacy of facilities to support learning. In addition, each school’s capacity, enrollment, and projected enrollment are analyzed. (The capacity data is provided for newly built schools as well as those built before 1999.)
Since Volume Two is nearly one thousand pages long, it is helpful to use the “find” function of your PDF viewer to find the school you’re looking for. (On some computers, control-f opens the find function.) Schools are grouped geographically into 40 planning areas in order to coordinate renovations of nearby schools. It is useful to read the introductory notes for your school’s geographical planning area, as well as the report for the individual school.
Recommendations, Not Decisions
Though the recommendations outlined in the MPSP report are meant to inform future Educational Facilities Master Plans, they do not, in and of themselves, constitute a plan of action. They are recommendations made by a third-party firm, not binding decisions made by the administration or Board of Education. For example, on school closures, the report has this to say:
The project team recommends some school closures over the course of the program; however, these recommendations cannot, and are not intended to, supersede the existing process that PGCPS uses to consider and rule on school closures. Any closure discussion must follow the established process. (Volume 1, Section 1.5.37)
According to a presentation made to the Board of Education on June 11, the plan for vetting MPSP recommendations includes seeking stakeholder input this summer. No community meetings are currently scheduled, but staff from the Capital Improvement Department will be available to speak to community groups as requested. Members of the public may email Elizabeth Chaisson (elizabeth.chaisson@pgcps) to give input on MPSP recommendations or to request a speaker from the Capital Improvement Department at a scheduled meeting.
In August, a preliminary Six-Year Capital Improvement Program will be issued to the board, and a public hearing on the plan will be held in September.
1In the two volumes that are available online, specific schools recommended for closure are not named.
Presentation on the Master Plan Support Project at the June 11 Board of Education meeting: Click here for the PowerPoint document. Click here to watch the video of the meeting. The presentation starts at 2:38:42 in the video.
Sentinel Article: Firm Recommends Closure of 29 County Schools