Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Prepares for Construction

Addition project would start in June 2016 if it isn’t delayed in upcoming county budget


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Rendering shows four-level addition on the west side of the existing Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and elevated tennis courts to allow parking underneath, via MCPS

The football field at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School will become a construction staging area starting in June if the 87,000-square-foot addition project for the school goes forward as planned.

Architects from Rockville-based firm Smolen-Emr-Ilkovitch and construction managers from Gaithersburg-based HESS Construction detailed the final design for the addition and how the project would be staged during a public meeting Wednesday night at the school.

The estimated $30 million project would add 24 classrooms, four labs, a dance studio, new art class spaces and other rooms for staff.

The addition would wrap around the west and north sides of the existing school building, with four floors planned for the west side and two floors on the north side.

The final design includes raising the school’s existing tennis courts to allow for parking underneath. That would give Bethesda-Chevy Chase 71 more parking spaces than it has now for a total of 294.

The Bethesda-Chevy Chase campus is the smallest high school site in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS).

The school’s enrollment is projected to surpass 2,000 students by the 2016-2017 school year. With a student body of more than 1,800 students, the school is already over its capacity of 1,692 with an addition that was completed in 2002.

The new addition would bump up the school’s capacity to 2,400 students.

“We feel that 2,400 would max out this facility,” Jim Tokar, the project manager for MCPS, said.

When someone asked what would happen if enrollment eventually topped 2,400, Tokar said “we would look at other means to deal with the students.”

The addition has been designed and project officials expect to present a formal preliminary plan to the Board of Education on Oct. 13.

Also in the next few weeks, MCPS Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers is expected to present his recommended capital budget for the six fiscal years that cover July 2016 through June 2022.

If construction funding for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase addition project is kept in the final capital budget when the County Council passes it in the spring, construction equipment will begin showing up on the school’s football field after school ends in June.

Classes would continue in the existing building while the addition is built. Officials said the project would be completed in August 2018, though rebuilding the football field bleachers and refurbishing the playing surface would likely stretch into the fall of 2018.

The field wouldn’t be available until the spring sports season in 2019.

School officials don’t yet know where teams that use the field will practice and play during construction. MCPS is considering a number of nearby athletic fields. The school’s baseball field will remain open.

The tennis courts will be closed and six new tennis courts elevated over the new parking will be added in the summer of 2018.

Around the same time, construction crews will be working on the new main school entrance, which leads directly to the administrative offices and gym. The lobby will be expanded and connected to the addition.

The portable classrooms now on two of the school’s tennis courts will be moved to a space in front of the school during construction. Construction workers will park on the football field staging area. Officials said major materials will be delivered during non-school hours and most delivery vehicles will access the staging area via Chelton Road and an existing curb cut on Sleaford Road.

Construction will happen from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ten parents, representing the school’s PTSA, its booster club and its education foundation, have formed a group to focus specifically on construction-related issues.

New Principal Donna Redmond Jones said she has been meeting with the group and MCPS construction officials regularly to ensure the addition project goes as smoothly as possible.

“It’s the last piece of space we have on this land,” Jones told about 30 parents and neighboring residents at the meeting. “We have to make sure the building reflects the teaching and learning we need to do.”

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