Montgomery County forgets about Wootton, no plans for renovation in sight

The+Wootton+Infrastructure+account+on+Instagram+accepts+photo+submissions+such+as+this+one+that+highlight+the+deteriorating+state+of+the+school+building.

Photo courtesy @wootton.infrastructure on Instagram

The “Wootton Infrastructure” account on Instagram accepts photo submissions such as this one that highlight the deteriorating state of the school building.

Broken toilets, leaky faucets, classrooms that are either too hot and stuffy, or freezing cold. Not to mention the decaying weight room and locker rooms in the basement of the school where only half the lights work and parts of the ceiling are missing. Portions of this school have not been touched since it was first built in 1970. That was over 50 years ago. This school is ranked #179 nationally out of 26,727 high schools in America. This puts Wootton in the top 1% nationwide. This school also places fourth in the state of Maryland according to US News Education. As a top tier school, students here deserve a respectable learning environment. 

With plans to renovate in 2016, the building was on track to be completely remodeled by the 2021 school year. Appropriation was approved for planning funds, beginning the architectural design for this much needed revitalization project. Then, Montgomery County Public Schools changed their Capital Improvement Program (CIP) process to prioritize addressing the specific urgent needs of different schools rather than fund complete remodels. This plan allows for multiple smaller construction projects to occur simultaneously countywide, with a condensed re-evaluation schedule. Re-evaluation occurs annually now. According to the Board of Education, the continuous surge in population of Montgomery County students called for a change in their process of addressing all needs of schools districtwide. 

This does not explain how this school went from being at the top of the renovation list in the 2016-2017 school year, to now, where plans for a complete renovation are nowhere in sight. The Montgomery County CIP project master plan for FY (Fiscal Year) 15 map shows every school that was on track for a number of different renovations, including design improvements, capital projects, facility upgrades and expansions, or feasibility studies to be completed in the upcoming years. Despite having the smallest high school building footprint in the entire county, while supporting one of the greatest populations of students, Wootton does not place on this map. 

On the other hand, 10 schools in the county underwent major expansion and revitalization projects this past year, including the complete remodel of Seneca Valley. Having built in 1974, Seneca Valley is four years younger than this school. Seneca Valley supported a total of 1,226 students in the 2019-2020 school year while Wootton currently supports 2,134 students. Walt Whitman also recently underwent a 75,000 sq. ft expansion. This added 18 new classrooms to the school and was completed by the beginning of the 2021 school year. If any school is in need of even the slightest remodel, it is here. When it’s finally Wootton’s turn, hopefully they will give us bathrooms with functioning sinks, or a ventilation system that keeps the classrooms at normal temperatures.