French International School Presents Plans for Elementary Building on Old Georgetown Road

As featured in Bethesda Magazine

Proposed building would accommodate up to 550 elementary students

Rochambeau, the French international school based in Bethesda, last week unveiled plans to build a new elementary school campus on several properties along Old Georgetown Road.

The school, which serves about 1,080 students from preschool to 12th grade, operates across three campuses in Bethesda and Chevy Chase. However, in recent months, the school has begun assembling land to construct a new building that would accommodate up to 550 students from kindergarten through fifth grade. The project would allow the school to consolidate grades that are currently split across several locations.

Jessica Todd, who lives nearby in the Wyngate neighborhood, said she learned of the school’s plan for the properties stretching from 9300 to 9320 Old Georgetown Road when a county ecologist visited her home as a preliminary step in the development process. She was one of several dozen community members to attend a meeting on the proposal last week at the school’s Forest Road administrative offices.

The proposal to build an L-shaped facility left her with some concerns about potential disturbances to her neighborhood, she said. Heating and cooling the 72,800-square-foot building would create noise, as would the comings and goings of students and roughly 70 staff members, she added.

“I do think that Rochambeau wants to be a good neighbor, but running a school might conflict with residents living in their homes,” she said after the meeting.

However, she indicated the school’s plan to bus students to and from the campus rather than allowing drop-offs could help alleviate traffic problems.

The community meeting paves the way for the school to submit its initial development proposal to the Montgomery County Planning Department.

The school plans to start construction in early 2020 and finish in time for the 2021-2022 academic year.