Annual School Test will guide school adequacy and Utilization Premium Payments for the fiscal year starting July 1
The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), certified the fiscal year 2023 Annual School Test results and accepted the accompanying School Utilization Report at its June 16 meeting in accordance with the Growth and Infrastructure Policy (GIP). The GIP imposes Utilization Premium Payments on developers building new housing units in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) service areas projected to be overutilized.
The Planning Board acted on the following items:
Certification of the FY2023 Annual School Test
Under the GIP, the Annual School Test evaluates the projected utilization of each individual MCPS school facility four years in the future – the 2026-27 school year for the FY2023 Test. If a school is expected to exceed certain utilization level thresholds, its school service area is placed in a Utilization Premium Payment (UPP) tier. There are three different tiers—Tier 1 for moderate overutilization, Tier 2 for intermediate, and Tier 3 for the highest overutilization—with corresponding payment rates, which are paid by the developer in addition to any applicable school impact tax.
In addition to the automatic UPP Tier placement, the Annual School Test also determines the adequacy ceiling to subsequent tiers of each school service area. If a development application is estimated to generate students in excess of the adequacy ceiling at any school, then the payment factor is upward adjusted in proportion to the number of students counted toward each payment tier.
Montgomery Planning staff prepared the FY2023 Annual School Test results, which were certified by the Planning Board to take effect on July 1, 2022, in accordance with the Annual School Test Guidelines adopted by the Planning Board on December 17, 2020.
Highlights of the FY2023 Annual School Test
- Tier 1 UPP placement:
- Two high school service areas (Gaithersburg, and Northwest)
- No middle school service areas
- Three elementary school service areas (Bannockburn, Highland View, and Flora M. Singer)
- Tier 2 UPP placement:
- Three high school service areas (Clarksburg, Richard Montgomery, and Quince Orchard)
- No middle school service areas
- Four elementary school service areas (Ashburton, Burtonsville, Flower Valley, and Watkins Mill)
- Tier 3 UPP placement:
- No high school or middle school service areas
- One elementary school service area (Mill Creek Towne)
FY2023 School Utilization Report
The GIP also requires Montgomery Planning to prepare a School Utilization Report to accompany the Annual School Test. The report consists of countywide and individual school elements that provide supplemental information about the county’s public school facilities. A snapshot of 2021 housing data by school service area, including single family home sales, housing development, and total residential dwelling units, is included in the FY2023 School Utilization Report. As data from additional years are analyzed, future reports may include housing trends by school service area.
About the Growth and Infrastructure Policy
The Growth and Infrastructure Policy (GIP)—one of the many ways that Montgomery Planning seeks to promote the excellent quality of life in Montgomery County—focuses on having enough infrastructure to support growth. The intent of the GIP is to ensure that public facilities, particularly schools and transportation infrastructure, but also water and sewer services, are adequate to accommodate new development. It includes criteria and guidance for the administration of Montgomery County’s Adequate Public Facility Ordinance (APFO), which balances the timing of private development with the availability of public infrastructure. Key elements of the schools element of the GIP include:
- Requiring developers of new housing to make Utilization Premium Payments (UPP) in areas with overutilized schools.
- Requiring Montgomery Planning to produce an annual School Utilization Report.
- Requiring the Planning Board to adopt guidelines for conducting the Annual School Test.
- Designating neighborhoods by School Impact Areas, which are characterized by the amount and type of residential development they experience and their impacts on school enrollment.
- Modifying the calculation and applicability of development impact taxes.