Projected growth and how that would impact space utilization at the Elizabethtown Area School District’s elementary schools were discussed during a school board meeting.
Currently the district has a total enrollment of 3,900 with 1,038 elementary students. A demographic study by DecisionInsite indicates that factoring in the projected growth in the district, in 2027 total enrollment would increase to 3,967, with 1,122 students in kindergarten through third grade. The school board is currently wrestling with several interconnected issues—the renovation/expansion of Rheems Elementary, the fate of Mill Road Elementary and possibly offering full-day kindergarten.
“The issue we face is that our housing is not evenly spaced. We can’t equally divide the students between our four elementary schools. We tried doing attendance zones to divide students, but that didn’t work. So we try to allocate space in our elementary schools to accommodate current and future needs,” Superintendent Michele Baillet told the school board at its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11.
DecisionInsite’s demographic information provided the basis for a space utilization analysis of elementary schools by Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates. John Beddia of Crabtree Rohrbaugh said the district’s guidelines (or functional capacity) are 22 students per classroom for kindergarten through third grade students. He said if Mill Road were vacated, and all the other elementary schools remained as they are, by 2027, they would be operating above the district’s guideline for functional capacity. If Mill Road were to remain an active school and a full-day kindergarten is implemented without new construction, by 2027 the schools would be operating at the district’s guideline for functional capacity.
“Currently all our kindergarten is a half-day program, and we do have one class for extended learning for those students who could benefit from the extra opportunity. We don’t have enough space to go to a full-day kindergarten or to offer additional learning opportunities for kindergarten students in the whole district,” Baillet said, adding that the district still is researching the effectiveness and costs associated with full-day kindergarten.
School board member Caroline Lalvani suggested that the district could start by offering additional learning opportunities for children who need them.
Beddia also presented a timeline for renovations and possible expansion at Rheems Elementary. The project is currently in the design phase. Design options will be created with extra space for full-day kindergarten. Construction is anticipated to begin in July 2019 with completion in December 2020.
In other matters, an update on the mold remediation at Mill Elementary was provided. The district does have insurance to cover environmental issues, but that means the district has to follow a specific remediation process. Last week’s efforts centered on assessment and testing. Only seven classrooms and two additional areas are required to be cleaned. Once the spaces are cleaned the air quality in the school will be re-tested to ensure the level of airborne mold falls within the acceptable level.
Also, the Elizabethtown Rotary Club presented an $11,000 donation to help fund mental health screenings for high school juniors.