Livable Frederick (copy)

The 2019 annual update to FCPS’ Educational Facilities Master Plan drops the system’s state-rated capacity — the number of students that an individual school can hold — for the county system’s 40 elementary and primary schools from 20,396 total seats in the 2018-19 school year to 18,869 for the 2019-20 school year, a decrease of 1,527 seats.

Leaders of Frederick County’s development community are concerned that a change in capacity for Frederick County Public Schools elementary students will slow development in the county.

The 2019 annual update to FCPS’ Educational Facilities Master Plan drops the system’s state-rated capacity — the number of students that an individual school can hold — for the county system’s 40 elementary and primary schools from 20,396 total seats in the 2018-19 school year to 18,869 for the 2019-20 school year, a decrease of 1,527 seats.

While the elementary capacity dropped significantly, the capacity for middle schools in the county increased by 769 seats. High school capacity dropped slightly, by 91 seats.

The changes in the elementary levels will challenge the ability of developers to get project approvals under the county’s adequate public facilities ordinance, said Eric Soter, a consultant at Rodgers Consulting and a former community development official for the county. The ordinance certifies that projects that increase population won’t overburden public resources such as police and fire services, roads and schools.

The county has a ratio for how many students each type of housing should be expected to generate, be it single-family, town house, or multi-family.

When you reduce capacity and take away seats, there will be projects that fail to meet the APFO requirements, Soter said.

The changes in APFO approval at the elementary level will be something to watch, said Denise Jacoby, the executive officer of the Frederick County Building Industry Association.

The reduction at the elementary level is the equivalent of more than two elementary schools, she said.

Jacoby said the changes were a topic of conversation at a recent meeting of the association’s Land Use Council.

The development community is a bit confused, Jacoby said, because nothing changed suddenly that would seem to necessitate the reduction.

While FCPS has recalculated capacity for individual buildings when additions or new facilities are built, the last system-wide recalculation was done around 2005, said Beth Pasierb, supervisor of facilities planning for the school district.

Since then, some classrooms have been converted into reading or math intervention spaces for students who need extra help in those subjects, or for other programs, but the system hasn’t had the time or staff to recalculate all its buildings for up-to-date capacity numbers, she said.

When the state said about a year and a half ago that it wanted updated numbers, the school system hired two college interns who walked through each building to document how the space was used.

The capacity numbers aren’t intended to tell FCPS what its model for staffing classrooms should be, but the numbers are used by the state to decide which projects to improve capacity are justified and how much of a project’s cost should be funded.

County Executive Jan Gardner (D) said the county’s focus should be on building schools to provide education for students, not ensuring capacity for developers.

The county had a lot of development approved in 2013 and 2014, Gardner said.

Gardner said the schools that the county has opening in the coming years, plus a redistricting process that FCPS is considering, should accommodate everything that’s already been approved.

Pasierb said she thinks the new capacity numbers reflect the changes that have been made since the last comprehensive recalculation more than a decade ago.

“I would argue they’re a better indication,” she said.

Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter: @RMarshallFNP.

Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at rmarshall@newspost.com.

(30) comments

Fishwrapper

Would someone please show me where there are words in the Frederick County Charter that 'Developers shall be accomodated without recognition of impact'. While I'm at it, also please show me where adequate water resources are available? And finally, the Monocacy river which I canoe and fish is being turned into a sewer. Each time I pass a waste water plant discharge into the river, it stinks and bubbles remain on the surface for over a mile.

jerseygrl42

sounds like Ryan needs a trip to Urbana where building goes on unabated and the likes of Natelli and Matan almost never hear the word NO...including the recent approval of 14 Homes on 1 acre next to a school....the builders reap the reward and the taxpayers shell ever increasing dollars playing catch -up with the infra-structure shortfalls that include parking lot highways that result in 2 hour trips to DC along with the trailer park schools ...but yes, by all means lets keep building till there is not one piece of green left...it will all be in the pockets of the developers not unlike the so-called Tech park that has NO tech but nevertheless the taxpayers will shell out more than $93 Million to pay for the access/egress to it from Rt 340

hayduke2

14 homes on one acre?????

KellyAlzan

Urbana has become The epicenter of townhouses. No exaggeration. In 7 years Urbana will be the epicenter for section 8 housing

phydeaux994

Kelly, Frederick County/City saw Urban Sprawl crawling up 270 for 30 years and none of you NIMBY’S here did anything about it. And still aren’t doing anything about the willy-nilly development that MoCo let happen. You Frederick old-timers voted in the Fabulous Four that sold you down the Monocacy. Walkersville changed their zoning to keep a Religious Group out but allowed that 24 hr. Lit Up Eyesore to become their new Identity. It wasn’t the Newbies that decided to do that. See what I mean?

KellyAlzan

As I was reading this I was thinking “30 years, I wasn’t even old enough to do anything”. And then as I read further, I see your wrote “you old timers”. LOL I have a feeling, you think I’m much older than I am :)

phydeaux994

Frederick “old timers” refers to born and raised here, not so much to age. People who resent a new face here, especially the MoCo Liberal type. You can’t stop development but you could have planned and managed it as Howard County did.

hayduke2

You make some assumptions here that simply are not true. I am not speaking about the massive development approved by the prior BOCC under Young, I am talking about you blaming everyone but the "old timers born and raised here." I know plenty of residents who don't fit this bill that have been involved in testimony and fighting lots of the urban sprawl.

matts853

RALE did something about it. A lot in fact.

matts853

So did Friends of Frederick County. There was a ton of citizen activism against in the Blaine Young era. Unfortunately, the courts are note prone to overturning development approvals, even those done by corrupt bodies. However, RALE has stopped the Monrovia Town Center, at least for the time being pending the outcome of a COSA decision on a case heard last November. That decision should come soon.

hayduke2

Matt - exactly! [thumbup][thumbup]

DickD

I am just glad we have Jan Gardner as CE, not Blaine Young. I want Jan to run for Governor.

KellyAlzan

Dumb. She supports that stupid hotel

jerseygrl42

She loves burning trash

FrederickFan

Really, where is that happening? You are ridiculous!

hayduke2

Troll

hayduke2

Sorry FF - troll was directed to jersey

FCPS-Principal

So the developers are worried that their efforts to lower the quality of life in the county are being curtailed? Good worry! Let them leave now.

sevenstones1000

It’s about time.

matts853

"When you reduce capacity and take away seats, there will be projects that fail to meet the APFO requirements, Soter said." Wrong, Eric. When unscrupulous commissioners like your buddy Blaine Young gut APFO standards to artificially create capacity and then proceed to approve scores of projects that never should have happened in the first place, there will be ludicrously overcrowded schools and clogged, unsafe roads. That's a far more accurate assessment of the situation, don't you think? Blaine Young gave it all to these people, but it's never enough to satisfy their rapacious business practices. I'm tired of hearing them whine about every little thing that might slow them down so that the people who actually live here can have a little breathing room. Matt Seubert

hayduke2

Matt- [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

sofanna

YAY!!!! Absolutely agree with you! The developers will 'steal' everything they can despite what it does negatively to the citizens of our County, especially children. Unfortunately the previous BOCC - Blaine Young and company - were more interested in $$$$ than what was right for our County. I still believe a total moratorium on developments should be put in place until the County's roads, schools, utilities, and other infrastructure that is REQUIRED is accomplished.

matts853

Unfortunately Blaine made it virtually impossible for future County government bodies to put a moratorium on development. He locked them in with decades long Developers Rights and Responsibilities Agreements (DRRAs) that were skewed heavily toward rights and no so much on responsibility.

sofanna

Couldn't the current Government officials file a law suit against these DRRAs because of all the damage that is occurring in our County? What about the citizens of Frederick County. Is there an honest attorney who would represent the residents of the County in a suit against this DRRA that was put in place by a former BOCC? Someone must be held accountable or at least reverse the terms of these long term DRRA. Seems to me this was totally irresponsible of the BOCC. I know, I'm wasting my breath.

FrederickFan

The residential developers continue to think it's all about them. No new housing has been approved since 2014 but so much was approved in 2013 and 2014 with no or few requirements for developers that the county remains stuck with the consequences like overcrowded schools. Gardner is right to point out that schools are for students and education not to accommodate development.

ebr1024

Slowing down the rate of development is a good thing. Our schools are overwhelmed and I hear even the hospital, FMH, can't keep up with the rise of population that's happened already.

FCPS-Principal

That would be due to the vast increase in the number of drug users.

hayduke2

Come on FCPS - unnecessary and stupid

sofanna

Agree!

sue1955

ebr; I no longer have a child in school, so I don't have recent experience with the Frederick school system. However, you are absolutely correct about the hospital. I know this from my own experience and that of my adult daughter who has a life-threatening illness. The average person in this county (as well as those looking to move here) have no clue. Until you (meaning any individual) or someone close to you are faced with some sort of medical problem, only then do people realize this scenario.

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