Whitman addition design budget approved

By Zara Ali

The Montgomery County School Board approved a $24.5 million budget for the 75,000-square-foot Whitman addition at their last meeting in February. The new addition will connect to the existing three-story school on two levels and increase the building’s capacity by around 400 students.

MCPS decided to build the addition in response to an increasing student population at Whitman—currently at 2,086 students—that has outpaced the current size of the school.

The Board passed the design budget for the addition without any major objections.

“The Board was very supportive of the project,” senior planner Debbie Szyfer said. “We’re able to provide everything that the school needs within the budget.”

The addition includes 18 standard classrooms, a drama classroom, an unspecified number of special education spaces, five science laboratories, a computer science laboratory, a career child development suite, a digital art room, a small keyboard laboratory, two technology education classrooms and more. The design incorporates a space to expand the building in the future to a capacity of 2,700 students.

While the addition is being built, portables in the main parking lot will take away 50 spots. Once the addition is complete, 130 spots will be added to the back parking lot near the new addition on top of the 50 spots regained once the portables are removed.

Since no labs can be placed in portables, all science classrooms will have to split time with the existing labs in the main building, principal Robert Dodd said.

The social studies department currently has many “floating” teachers, or teachers without a set classroom who travel between various rooms. The department is excited about the possibility of giving more teachers their own classrooms, history resource teacher Suzanne Johnson said.

The next big step for the addition is to get funding allocated for construction costs. Currently, the Board is requesting $51 million more for construction costs than the County Council had originally approved. The Council will make a final decision in May.

“It’s possible that some projects that were approved could be delayed or deferred,” Szyfer said.

Dodd expects the addition to go forward smoothly because it’s been on schedule up to this point.

“I’m incredibly excited that the Board approved the design,” Dodd said. “I think the preliminary plan that they approved, that the Lukmire Architects designed, is beautiful.”