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The Arcola Elementary School Reopening

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May 2004

Monday, May 03, 2004
From Edward Murtagh

As many of you know by now, there is a good possibility that Duncan wants to delay the re-opening of Arcola Elementary School for at least one year. Re-opening Arcola is very important in addressing the currently overcrowded local elementary schools. In addition there are plans to build approximately 1,000 new housing units over the next few years near our community. Many of these new housing units will have kids that will attend the local schools. Also, having a vacant building in the neighborhood also can attract problems. We would like to prepare a letter to be sent to both the County Council and the Board of Education that addresses our community's concerns. A draft form of the proposed letter is posted here.
Please look it over. If you have any comments, please let me know so we can try to incorporate them into the final version.

11 June 2004 update

The School Board approved the schematic design for Arcola this week, and Joe DeRosa, the Project Manager, is proceeding on the assumption that the opening will be in '06. But he and others have heard rumors it will be delayed until '07 due to cuts in state funding and County Council actions. If he doesn't know for sure, I'm not sure who does. Sorry I can't be more definitive.

30 June 2004 update

Leslie McDermott reports ...
Hi Everyone,
I was talking to a friend whose kids go to the Washington Christian School. She told me that they recently got a letter from their school that said that they will stay at the school for an other year since the Arcola Elementary School construction project will be delayed a year. We have heard nothing from MCPS about this! I assume none of the new housing units that are being built all around Wheaton will be delayed a year.
Ed Murtagh adds ...
The letter said WCA received a "call" from MCPS saying they could stay through the spring semester and that an official letter from MCPS was forthcoming.

Traffic report

A summary of the June 2004 Traffic Impact Analysis, which was done as part of the new Arcola Elementary School project.
Longer summary

Proposed plans

Proposed Plans for the new Arcola Elementary School.

Sept. 2004 update

from Ed Murtagh

There hasn't been much news about the re-opening of Arcola Elementary over the past few months. As you all probably know by now, the re-opening has been delayed one year. Also, the Board of Education approved the conceptual plans for the new school. For those of you who haven't seen how the new school will look, there are PDF files of the conceptual plans on the SHCA now (in black and white). I have copies of the plans in color if any of you are interested. The new school will be a lot bigger than the existing school, but the architect has done a good job of minimizing the visual impact on our community.

I understand that the Linkage to Learning portion of the school (nearest to Channing) will not be built. That will reduce the size of the school and make the site more open.

We were hoping to have the new school include a geothermal heating and cooling system. The installation of this system would have included re-grading the adjacent playing field (the source of the muddy, sediment filled stream that flows down Channing during every heavy rain). Unfortunately, the park people are concerned about shutting down the playing fields for two seasons and have not given MCPS the OK for the installation of the geothermal system. According to the MCPS Project Manager there will be a Mandatory Referral at the Planning Board in either October/November. This is an opportunity for the community to make additional comments about the project. The Project Manager was also willing to work with the community on the Landscaping Plans for the school.

Leah comment... Why would they have to shut the field down for two seasons? I think we should push hard for the geothermal system, since it would be a win-win-win - address a neighborhood nuisance (the flooding), improve water quality at the Sligo headwaters and save energy/reduce greenhouse gases.

Ed responds... If I recall correctly, 180 wells will need to be drilled (I assume starting in the spring) and the field will need to be reseeded and allowed to grow before it could be used again. I have no idea how long this entire process actually takes. I think that this subject should be brought up to the Planning Board during the Mandatory Referral since the Planning Board has some say about how the parks are manage

Nov. 2004 update

The latest Montgomery County FY 2005 Construction Improve Program (CIP) was release last week. The program calls for full funding for the new Arcola Elementary School. The funding also includes funding for the optional gymnasium. The schedule date of completion of the new school is August 2007. It appears that there will be no funding for the Linkages to Learn facility at Arcola Elementary School, so the school will not be large as shown on the conceptual plans. Construction should start this summer.

The FY 2005 CIP also includes funding for Northwood High School for science lab improvements, window replacements, and many of items.

The Arcola Elementary School Project is currently in the design phase. I will try to go out to the MCPS Engineering Offices to review the current construction documents this month.

On December 16th, there will be a Mandatory Referral at Park and Planning for the new Arcola Elementary School. Our community has been invited to testify before the Planning Board.

March 2005 update

Here is the latest update on the re-opening of Arcola Elementary School:

Work on the construction documents (plans and specifications) were put on hold for about 2 months due to the postponing of the re-opening of the school. The project is now back on track and the Architectural/Engineering Design firm is now working on the construction documents again. The design phase is expected to be completed by the middle of May. The Planning Board Mandatory Referral, which was originally scheduled for last December, is now scheduled for mid April. The Project Manager doesn't expect any major problems with the Planning Board. The Project Manager mentioned that construction costs have increased significantly recently. The MCPS construction budgets have not been adequate. MCPS is currently re-bidding recent construction projects that came in above school budgets. By mid April, after the re-bidding process is complete, MCPS will have a better idea of their budget situation. If these construction cost do not come down, MCPS may need to re-evaluate how ! many projects they can afford to award this fall. Arcola Elementary could be delayed again, though the Project Manager is not in the position to know which construction projects will be delayed (this is a political decision). There is a possibility that features like the school gymnasium could be delayed or eliminated.

According the Project Manager, there have been no significant changes to the school design since we saw it last year (so what is posted on the web site is still fairly accurate). If all goes well budget wise, the project will go out to bid in October and awarded in November 2005. Tear Down/Demolition would start in December. The construction phase will last a little over a year. The school should be finished by spring and ready for re-opening in the fall of 2007. Once the project is awarded in Nov (hopefully), the construction contractor will provide a schedule.

(more details )

May 2005 update

From Ed Murtah, 10 May 2005

I was just asked about the status of the re-opening of Arcola Elementary. Since it has been awhile since I updated everyone, here it is:

As of TODAY, the project is still on schedule for a fall 2007 re- opening. There is FY 2006 money available for this project. The project should go out to bid this fall and construction/ground breaking this coming winter. The County has had some serious funding problems lately, but it according to the MCPS, it is unlikely that the re-opening of Arcola Elementary School will be delayed again. There is an important County Council budget meeting later this month, so we will have a clearer idea of where we stand on the schedule.