The following is a summary of the the meeting that took place on February 13, at SCES concerning the planned construction at SSIMS and SCES. Many thanks go to Joe Shashaty for creating such detailed notes and posting them to the SCES List Serv.
Fellow SCES parents, SCES teachers and others,
I am resending this to the SCES PTA group, having shared it with my fellow first-grade parents via a separate listserv. Thanks to Kelly Vaena for the suggestion to join this listserv and share the information. Apologies to any who are getting this twice.
I attended a review of proposed improvements to both SSIMS and SCES presented by MCPS on Wednesday afternoon in the SCES Media Center. There had been a more extensive presentation for SSIMS in January, as most of the project would focus on that side of the building; the plans shared at this meeting touched on the SSIMS changes, but mainly covered changes to SCES. The notes below represent my understanding of the preliminary plan as it exists:
- The defunct auditorium at the NW corner of the building will be cleaned up (asbestos & mold remediation, etc.) and a portion of that area will be converted into new SCES admin offices (reception, principal, nursing, etc.) and new classrooms.
- The main entrance will be relocated to this NW corner on the W side, north of the SSIMS main entrance, and a proper controlled vestibule there would replace the temporary vestibule doors that are planned immediately for the grand staircase area (they are waiting on the door manufacturer-- apparently there is a significant backlog).
- Car circle would remain as-is, but the grand staircase would be changed to a smaller stairway to accommodate a classroom above and a separated exit for SSIMS in the same area. Differential timing of school openings and the secondary nature of the SSIMS egress would suggest that there would not be confusion at drop-off or pick-up.
- The current admin office space and the immersion kindergarten classrooms would be redesigned to accommodate an additional pre-k room (approximately where Mme Raze's classroom is now).
- The added classrooms, both in the current auditorium space and in the kindergarten area would comply with MoCo size guidance, but might be smaller than current classroom & kindergarten spaces. It does not appear that the kindergarten en-suite bathrooms or certain other amenities of that space would remain.
- Four classrooms on the third floor east side of the building currently assigned to SCES would be reassigned to SSIMS. These are actually in a wing that is more SSIMS than SCES in the first place. I believe this means that, aside from the pre-k, there would be no net addition to the number of SCES classrooms.
- Both the SCES and SSIMS cafeterias would be expanded to the north (into the parking lot) by about 20 feet. The corridor connecting the SCES cafeteria with the music & arts classrooms would remain, shifted by the same amount.
- The small building (car body shop from the old Blair High days) near the playground and the tennis courts would be razed to try to fit in additional teacher parking spaces, offsetting some of the spaces lost with the expansion of the cafeteria and addressing unmet parking needs.
- Several changes/improvements to SSIMS (abandoning the external field house in favor of in-house gyms with a stage, science classrooms, relocated music facilities, etc.) would be concentrated on the west side of the building, which would get a new facade.
The commentary from the audience focused on safety, especially around the east/rear of the building and parking alternatives, with an eye towards the effects of the Purple Line. The proposed parking was seen as cramped, an issue for access to the playground and the same for dismissal of walkers (though walker dismissal might be relocated to the new main entrance). A parking garage at the foot of the cafeteria entrance or parking placed instead at the current location of the to-be-abandoned field house were suggested alternatives.
It is envisioned that the project would begin in the summer of 2020 and continue until the fall of 2022 in a phased manner. There would need to be some accommodation as classroom space was affected. This could include trailers or, possibly, temporary relocation to an alternate facility. A reminder was given that this was preliminary planning, and that there would be more to come that would take into account the feedback given. They expect to present a preliminary plan to the board on late March or early April. Information can be seen at https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/facilities/construction/project/ssims.aspx -- note that the 2019 working session presentations are changed from the 2015 feasibility study file options.
There were about 15 in attendance, including teachers, parents and neighbors. One of the neighbors had worked at Somerset Elementary in Chevy Chase, where building renovations happened during her tenure. She was complimentary of that, but noted that it took the concerted effort of the residents of that relatively affluent area to get to a design and approach that really met needs and properly minimized disruption to student experience. Also noted was the now-near-permanent nature of the "temporary" trailer structures at nearby Woodlin Elementary.
Apologies for the lack of brevity and anything I might have incorrectly reported. I hope you find the information useful. The MCPS project manager, Seth Feriano, provided his contact information for further inquiries: Seth_A_Feriano@mcpsmd.org | 240-314-1017.