Thriving Lake Seneca in Need of More Space

When Lake Seneca Elementary School first opened its doors in 1985, Germantown was a sleepy little suburb off the I-270 corridor. Today, it is one of the most populous areas in the state and continues to grow by an estimated 2,000 people annually, according to the Germantown Historical Society.

Although the community that feeds into Lake Seneca Elementary has grown tremendously, the school building itself has not. Originally built to accommodate 385 students, Lake Seneca now has a population of more than 560 students. It is also a Focus school, which means smaller class sizes in Kindergarten through Second Grade and an even higher demand for space. Add to that the fact that nearly an entire wing of the school is devoted to Pre-K and PEP classes and we end up with a very overcrowded school indeed!

Currently, all 3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-grade classes except one are in the school’s 9 relocatable classrooms. That means nearly half of the Lake Seneca student population is outside the building during the school day. This poses a number of challenges like:

  • vulnerability during a security or environmental threat;
  • health risks associated with poor ventilation and exposure to mold and mildew; and
  • distracting learning environments caused by outside noise, poor lighting, erratic indoor temperatures; cramped space, and limited restroom visits.

Lake Seneca staff members have also been adversely affected by the shortage of space, with several teachers and specialists having to share rooms smaller than a full-size classroom.

On October 26, 2018, MCPS Superintendent Jack R. Smith approved the funds necessary to develop plans for an addition to Lake Seneca. According to the Capital Improvements Program/Master Plan (CIP):

Previous projections indicated that enrollment at Lake Seneca Elementary School would exceed capacity by 92 seats or more by the end of the six-year planning period. Therefore, a feasibility study was conducted in FY 2014 to determine the feasibility, scope, and cost for a classroom addition. Current projections indicate enrollment will exceed capacity over the six-year period. Therefore, an FY 2020 appropriation is recommended for planning funds only to begin the architectural design for a classroom addition. The completion date will be determined in a future CIP. Relocatable classrooms will be utilized until a capacity project is considered in a future CIP.

The full CIP is available online at montgomeryschoolsmd.org/
departments/planning/cipmaster.aspx. Public hearings about the CIP will be held on Thursday, November 8, 2018, and Monday, November 12, 2018.

What You Can Do To Help

The PTA needs your help and invites you to join us on the evening of Thursday, November 8, 2018, when we’ll testify before the Montgomery County Board of Education to advocate for an addition to our school. This public meeting will take place from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Carver Educational Services Auditorium (850 Hungerford Drive) in Rockville.

Please consider attending the meeting on November 8 as a show of community support. Because schools from across the county are competing for funds, we need as many parents and community members as possible to fill seats on that date and be present for our speakers that evening.

If you can attend and/or want to learn more, please send an email as soon as possible to: president@lakesenecapta.com.

Other things you can do:

  • Recruit another parent or two to attend the meeting.
  • Offer to carpool for attendees who may not have transportation.
  • Make a sign. Hold a sign.

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