STATEMENT: Fair Access for Western Montgomery County Committee Responds to Montgomery County Public Schools' Key Facility Indicator (KFI) data
With the release of Key Facility Indicator school-by-school data displays, the Fair Access for Western Montgomery County Committee and our Western Montgomery County community partners and residents are pleased to see the data has demonstrated the need for a new Poolesville High School.
We agree that careful examination of school facilities using a set of criteria is an important component of decision-making regarding the modernization of schools. The proper use and interpretation of these Key Facilities Indicators (KFIs) can help ensure that decisions about modernizing schools are well informed and fair. We commend Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) for taking a new approach to scoring and scheduling the Capital Improvements Program (CIP).
We know based upon the Superintendent’s own October 2018 admission that PHS is one of nine “major capital projects” that "require major capital work due to both facility condition elements and capacity or programmatic elements.”
MCPS staff and leadership know how patiently and respectfully Western Montgomery County residents have waited 20 years. The KFI data supports a modernization decision that allows our students and residents in Western Montgomery County to be treated fairly. Now the county can move forward and build a Multi-Use Facility containing a 21st Century PHS collocated with a community/senior center, clinic and police satellite station as our Committee has advocated.
ABOUT FAIR ACCESS
A committee of Western Montgomery County, Md. residents have banded together to represent the interests of farmers, students, senior citizens, churches, and non-profit organizations located in the County’s prized Agricultural Reserve to rally for a much-needed new high school with co-located police, health and community services. The committee is launching a program in support of the new facility and services entitled, “Fair Access for Western Montgomery County,” to communicate the need for Western Montgomery County to be treated fairly with accessible facilities and services, just like every other part of the County.
“Western Montgomery County has been bypassed on key projects like a new high school for years because we don’t have a large population living in the Agriculture Reserve to numerically justify investments, yet we pay the same amount in taxes as other parts of the County,” explained Poolesville Commissioner Jim Brown. “Western Montgomery County deserves to have fair access, and we believe our County officials will work with us to ensure us of this.”
Commissioner Jerry Klobukowski added, “Our nationally ranked public high school is 65-years-old. It needs to be replaced immediately to bring it into the 21st century and correct ADA, health, and safety hazards posed daily to our students, teachers and administrators. Working together with Montgomery County Public Schools, health, and public safety officials, we have a chance to create an innovative, adaptable multi-use facility, ensuring our students and residents are treated fairly with new, safe facilities and services.”
The Agricultural Reserve, which represents 93,000 acres of protected land, and produces an estimated $287 million in agribusiness revenue, reflects how the County and the residents appropriately planned a balanced approach to fulfilling the needs of our County. A new high school to accommodate today’s students from around the County would include current agribusiness, high-tech STEM curriculum.
“We treasure the green space in Western Montgomery County, and have a right-sized solution for our area, and a co-located facility is it,” said Link Hoewing, Western Montgomery County resident and WUMCO Help volunteer. “Montgomery County rightly values fairness for its citizens and innovative government solutions. This proposal hits the mark on both counts.”
“Our residents live in a County services desert, and with more seniors aging in place, our most vulnerable need accessible transportation and other support services for their health and well-being,” said Catherine Beliveau, Executive Director of Western Upper Montgomery County Help, Inc. (WUMCO), a nonprofit whose mission is to aid needy persons in W. Upper Montgomery County.
A police substation collocated with the high school and community center would provide additional security for the school and citizens in Poolesville and Western Montgomery and reduce police response times when there is no or limited police presence in our area.
A resident weighed in on the issue in a recent survey, “This sort of facility is needed for the upcounty area which is open and green as it should be, but has many in need who remain often unseen. It is a facility that fits the Ag Reserve and improves its quality of life.”