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Capital Project Frequently Asked Questions

Capital Project Frequently Asked Questions

This page will address frequently asked questions related to the capital projects in Montgomery County Public Schools.  Questions may be submitted via email to brendadrake@mcps.org.Questions are answered in the order they are received. Click on a question to be taken to the response.


Q: How was the size of the band and choral rooms at AHS determined?

A:The room sizes were determined using the maximum possible enrollment in the program.


Q: Will the BHS building have a greenhouse?

A:A greenhouse is part of the current building design. It is a 2,000 sq. ft. pre-fabricated greenhouse.


Q: What type of track will BHS have?

A:The current BHS design includes a 6-lane asphalt track.


Q: How were staff and community members engaged in the design process?

A:At AHS and AMS, the design process has been on-going since 2008. Numerous staff and community meetings have taken place.

There have been more than 33 meetings among various representatives for BHS. Some of these meetings have been with the building committee, which includes one staff and one parent representative. Others have been meetings with academic departments/department chairs to discuss the layout of specific space. These meetings will continue as the design process moves forward. Formal meetings of the building committee will be announced in advance of the meeting via the capital projects webpage.


Q: What is the purpose of the conference room space defined at both schools?

A:There are a significant number of spaces, but the conference rooms have multiple uses including student small group and resource room space. The spaces are more multipurpose areas than strictly conference rooms. Waiting areas are strategically located for specific user purposes (e.g. guidance, main administration area, etc.)


Q: Does funding include the demolition of the old AMS building?

A:Funding is included in the $14.5 million owner portion of the budget. The actual cost of demolition is to be determined.


Q: What determined the location of the softball field at AHS?

A:The softball field location at AHS is located in what is considered to the best location. The use of an existing compact site reduced flexibility in location of new spaces, yet the placement is appropriate.


Q: What are the capacities of recent construction projects compared to student enrollment?

A: The chart below compares the stated building capacity to the current membership.


 School
 Stated Capacity
 Current Membership
 EMES
 624
 453
 PFES
 624
 198
 EMHS
 400 cap, 600 core
 283
 BMS
 1,200
 821
 CMS
 1,200
 820






Q: What design space guidelines have we used for our most recent construction projects (EMES, EMHS, PFES, CMS, BMS)?

A: EMES and PFES used the MCPS building planning guidelines adopted in 2000. EMHS opened in 2000, before the MCPS guidelines were adopted and is based on state guidelines. BMS and CMS used a combination of state guidelines, MCPS guidelines, and an Ohio prototype that has a core class size range from 717-813 sq. ft. and science labs at app. 915 sq. ft.


Q: How does the size of AMS compare to BMS (current BHS site) and CMS?

A: BMS and CMS are both 190,478 square foot buildings.

AMS is approximately 123,355 square foot. Regular classroom sizes at BMS/CMS range from 717-813 square feet, and the science labs are approximately 915 square feet. AMS classroom sizes range from 726 to 1,178 square feet. The modification of existing high school space for AMS drives many of the spaces that are larger than usual middle school space.


Q: Where are we in the design and construction process for these projects?

A: The PPEA process allows us to simultaneously work on the design and the beginning of the construction process. As of September 23, the designs for both schools are nearing 35% completion. In addition, land preparation has started at both construction sites. Both projects are on track to open for occupancy in the fall of 2013. On Tuesday, September 27, 2011, the school board will hold a special meeting to hear an update on the design and planning of both schools. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the County Government Center.


Q: When are the ground breaking ceremonies for these projects?

A: The Auburn High School groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 19, 2011. The Blacksburg High School groundbreaking ceremony will be held on October 11, 2011, at 3:30 p.m. at the Price’s Fork location for the new school.


Q: Earth moving equipment is at these sites. What are they doing?

A: The first step in construction is to prepare the land for the building itself. This starts with erosion and sediment control measures, and continues with leveling the surface. This work is expected to take approximately two months and will be followed by foundations and steel framing for the buildings.


Q: Are the new schools for Auburn and for Blacksburg equitable?

A: The same planning and quality of construction standards have been used for both buildings. Both buildings will have an initial capacity and a core capacity, with planning to allow for additional growth up to the core capacity.

There are many differences between the instructional program at Auburn and Blacksburg that make it impossible to build two identical schools. Student population, instructional programs, and building sites vary with each school and thus create variations in the building designs and how the school division’s planning standards are applied.

Auburn High is planned for a core size to support 800 students with the initial building for a capacity of 600 students. Blacksburg High School will have a core capacity for 1600 students and initial building capacity for 1400 students. Auburn Middle will have a core capacity for 600 students and an initial building capacity of 480 students.


Q: Will teachers have their own dedicated classroom in the new buildings?

A: When both buildings open, teachers may have a designated classroom space and there will be minimal initial sharing. Many of the situations which require shared space arise due to teachers who teach multiple subjects that may not require the same classroom space configuration (e.g. chemistry and biology).

As the school populations grow, the sharing of classrooms may increase to maximize the use of space in the buildings. Unlike an elementary classroom, a secondary classroom may sit empty from 90 to 150 minutes during the school day. Sharing of classrooms increases the efficiency of the space usage and is common practice in secondary schools.


Q: What is provided for outdoor athletic facilities?

A: Both athletic facilities provide appropriate venues for all athletic teams. There exists opportunity for additional enhancements through partnerships with school and community organizations.

The site plans for both buildings lay out the athletic field placement. The Auburn site plan shows that most of the existing outdoor facilities will remain. The Blacksburg site plan shows that the current football/soccer field is at the current location, and additional athletic facilities will be added.


Q: What is the size of the auditoriums?

A: The current Blacksburg High School design allows for approximately 1,100 seats in the auditorium as a performing venue. The Auburn High School auditorium is designed for a capacity of 600 seats as a performing venue, and Auburn Middle School will use the current AHS auditorium with a capacity of 470 seats as a performing venue.


Q: How large are the gymnasiums?

A: The current Auburn High School design includes a main gym of 11,285 square feet and an auxiliary gym of 7,850 square feet with seating in the main gym for approximately 1,000. Auburn Middle School will use the current AHS gym with 8,310 square feet and a seating capacity of 500.

The current design configuration of the BHS gymnasium includes a 12,312 sq. ft. main gym and a 7,444 sq. ft. auxiliary gym. The main gym will hold approximately 1,600 seats with additional seating available in the auxiliary gym due to the movable wall between the two gyms.