What do you think about renovating Northwood High School?

MCPS is planning a MAJOR renovation of Northwood High School. The school will be entirely (or almost) rebuilt. At its November 27th meeting, the Board of Education decided that Northwood HS would be relocated during construction.   All members of the NHS community are invited to a discussion of options for the holding center for Northwood High School, on Wednesday, March 13, from 6:30-8:00 pm in the Media Center.   There are three options being considered for relocation:

  • Relocate during construction to an alternative MCPS school building: The old Woodward High School in Rockville is scheduled to be completely rebuilt by 2023. Northwood students could be relocated here during construction.
  • Renovations to other MCPS closed school properties: Former Broome Middle School and Rocking Horse Road Admin building (former elementary school) also under consideration.
  • Relocate during construction to existing office building(s): Potential sites for Northwood HS are now being investigated in downtown Silver Spring and perhaps elsewhere. There may be significant unoccupied office space that could be renovated to support a school.

The consultant leading the evaluation of these three options will present findings to the Board of Education on March 14. The consultant will meet with us on March 13 to present some of this information, and will have time for questions and feedback.   MCPS will make the final report available after March 14. It will be available from the NHS and the NHS PTSA websites. Those who cannot attend the March 13 meeting will be able to view the information and provide comments online.   While surveys of the PTSA indicated strong support for a “rebuild in place” option, both Michele Moller and Principal Charley-Greene reported that teachers who worked at Northwood during the prior renovation were strongly disturbed by the “rebuild in place” option. We learned that it took 10 years for Walter Johnson to complete a similar project. This option is no longer being considered by the school board.   There are significant trade-offs in the Rockville and Downtown Silver Spring options. Some of the tradeoffs are:

  • Community: Relocation to Rockville would substantially hinder parent visits to school, both during the school day and for after-school activities. Transportation options beyond the MCPS buses could be enhanced but are not likely to be convenient. There would be less inconvenience for downtown Silver Spring.
  • Athletic facilities: Neither option includes on-site athletic fields, but the Rockville option would have full gymnasium and there is an adjacent park that could be used for some practices.

A couple of interesting points made about the downtown Silver Spring option: One is the convenience of being near the Montgomery College campus. In an unrelated discussion, the popularity of the MC2 Program (early achievement of associates degree from Montgomery College) was discussed. Also, there has been discussion about addressing over-enrollment problems in high schools by adding an “alternative” high school that might be a good fit for an office environment.   Parents from the entire Northwood cluster are clearly anxious about the possibility that their children might have to be bused 8 miles to Rockville for 2 years (or more). But there is also strong support for getting on with the much-needed (understatement) rebuild of Northwood High School. What should be done?   We will update everyone via the listserv when new information is available. We do not know when the Board is expected to select the preferred relocation site. You can always email the Board of Education at boe@mcpsmd.org with your input.