MCPS schools overcrowded, in need of HVAC systems

SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJLA) - Classroom space is tight in Montgomery County. The school system has added 14,000 students since 2007, and expects to gain 11,000 more by 2019.

"We are bursting at the seams,” says one parent.

“The kids are packed in there like sardines,” explains another.

In order to ease that pressure, 72-percent of Superintendent Starr’s $1.5 billion capital improvement plan will go towards building new schools and adding on to existing ones like Highland Elementary in Silver Spring.

That’s good news for parent Lynne Harris, who says: "There were some years where they were cramming 30 some kids in one of those portables in a 4th grade class."

The remaining 28-percent, or $437 million, would go towards technology and building upkeep – including the installation of new HVAC systems, which have recently gained attention because of an ongoing mold issue at Rolling Terrace Elementary in Takoma Park.

"Safety is always the number one priority, and if there's ever anything that would cause our students and staff to be unsafe because of an infrastructure type of issue, we'll take care of it,” says Starr.

Still, Rolling Terrace isn’t slated for a new HVAC unit until the fall of 2016, which is still three years from now. And many parents, including Michaela Johnson, are saying that this delay is unacceptable -- especially because her 5th grade daughter is already ill.

"All it says is we hear you, but we're not going to do anything about it,” she says.