According to the Frederick County Public Schools’ 2017-2022 Capital Improvement Plan, the Armel Elementary School addition/renovation project will be completed in time for the opening of school in the fall of 2018 with construction scheduled to begin in July 2017. The project is needed to renovate the 25-year-old facility and address overcrowding as well as enrollment growth in the school’s attendance zone due primarily to residential development at Lake Frederick. Armel Elementary School has a capacity of 590 students and 601 students enrolled as of September 30, 2016. Once the addition/renovation is completed, the school will have a capacity of 728 students. To date, funds have only been appropriated for the design of the addition/renovation. Additional action will be necessary by both the School Board and Board of Supervisors before construction can begin.
Project Update (April 13, 2017)
At its meeting on April 12, 2017, The Frederick County Board of Supervisors shared that it is unwilling to fund the Armel Elementary School addition/renovation project as presented and requested at this time. The Board did approve a motion stating its willingness to consider a future appropriation of up to $27 million to construct a 12th elementary school at Snowden Bridge with a number of restrictions including: (1) the school will be a complete facility including all state standard elementary school programs, (2) there will be no unresolved VDOT comments or issues, (3) the Board of Supervisors will not be asked to appropriate any additional capital funding for the facility for a minimum of 15 years, and (4) if the capacity of the school is reduced below 600, all support areas will be designed and constructed to support the original capacity. On December 6, 2016, the School Board asked the Board of Supervisors to appropriate $7.5 million to allow for the Armel Elementary School addition/renovation project to proceed and $30.9 million to allow for the construction of the 12th elementary school to proceed.
The Armel Elementary School addition/renovation is being designed by OWPR Architects and Engineers. After gathering input to better understand instructional best practices and considering ways to improve building design based on lessons learned from past projects, the goals for the project were established. They include:
- Increase student capacity
- Provide natural light in classrooms
- Encourage collaboration among students and foster student ownership for their own learning
- Encourage collaboration among faculty and paraprofessional staff
- Develop flexible spaces that allow agility of furnishings and supports the student need for movement
Develop transparency within the building so students can be inspired by the work of their peers
- Develop an environment that supports the FCPS one-to-one Chromebook initiative and encourages the use of technology
- Provide each teacher with access to a Maker Space to promote student engagement and project-based learning
- Utilize the building and the greater environment as a teacher
The project will include the construction of five different additions onto Armel Elementary School. Three of the additions will be built on the eastern side of the building (areas housing third, fourth and fifth grades). Another addition will be built on the north side of the building (area housing second grade). The final addition will be on the northwest corner of the building (area housing kindergarten). The project will also extend the existing kindergarten patio and add a paved fire lane around the school. Once completed, the additions and interior renovations will result in the creation of six collaborative learning spaces inside the school--one for each grade level K-5.
Due to the scope of the project, it will be impossible to complete all of the work when school is not in session. In order to minimize the impact on students and staff, construction will be completed in six phases. The first phase of work will be conducted after school hours in April/May of 2017 and during the summer of 2017. The subsequent phases of the project will be completed throughout the 2017-18 school year and early in the summer of 2018. During each phase, a limited number of classrooms will be relocated within the school while work is completed in those classroom spaces. This schedule is contingent upon funds for the project being appropriated in January 2017.