Six options: Public meeting set for Oct. 11 to help lay out school district’s future

By on October 4, 2017

Warwick School District is exploring ideas for the future.

After many months of focus groups and studies among students, parents, staff, administrators, board members and the community, RLPS Architects unveiled a review of the district’s feasibility study at the school board’s Oct. 3 committee of the whole meeting.

“This is just an initial step for the school district,” said Craig Kimmel of RLPS. “It presents six options that the district may want to consider for the future.”

Those six options will be up for review by the community at a public forum set for Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 6:30 p.m., at the Warwick Middle School auditorium.

“This event is a preliminary look at potential options for the district related to the future in regards to upcoming district renovation projects slated for the 2022-2023 school year,” reported District Superintendent Dr. April Hershey.

The presentation will be hosted by Kimmel and Erin Hoffman of RLPS, who have been instrumental in collecting data from the district administration, board, staff, and the community for more than a year.

Hershey urged all community members to attend the presentation, noting that, “We have time to study this.”

The school board previewed RLPS’ presentation, which takes into account the condition of various schools, declining enrollments, classroom sizes, recreational facilities, and changes in educational approaches. Whether six graders should be in elementary school or in middle school was another consideration.

“The focus of the study is to bring education into the 21st Century, meeting the changing needs of students and educators,” said Hoffman.

The six options range from keeping the four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school pretty much status quo, with only renovations and improvements, to realigning the schools so that two elementary schools would be closed and a new intermediate school would be constructed at the high school campus.

“That would be the most expensive option,” said Kimmel of option six, which calls for school closings, building a new school and rearranging the entire district.

School board treasurer Michael Landis expressed reservations about closing schools, saying, “Once you start closing schools, wow!”

Board member Leslie Penkunas shared his concern, noting that once the district would close a school it would be complicated if enrollment increased and those schools were needed.

Hershey emphasized that the district has no preconceived ideas and no agenda. It will take many more months or even years to determine which of the six options presented by RLPS will serve the Warwick School District best.

Option one keeps the district with Lititz Elementary, John Beck Elementary, John R. Bonfield Elementary, Kissel Hill Elementary, the middle school and high school. Elementary schools would have grade K-6, middle school with grades 7-8, and high school with grades 9-12.

In all options, needed renovations would be done at John Beck, Kissel Hill, and the high school, and the high school’s athletic area and gyms would be renovated, with air conditioning improvements.

Option two is similar, except that pre-K and K classrooms would be added and Bonfield would be transitioned into an intermediate school with grades 5-6. Students would be split up into different schools, depending on grade level, with pre-K-K in one school, grades 1-4 in another, 5-6 in another, 7-8 in middle school, and 9-12 in high school.

As Hoffman noted, this option would require adjustments in transportation, and some families and children might not be keen on transitioning to different schools and adapting to changes every two years or so.

Option three has similar school levels, with three elementary schools for grades K-4, Bonfield transitioned into an intermediate school with grades 5-6, middle school with grades 7-8, and high school with grades 9-12.

Option four calls for the closing of the Bonfield school, with John Beck, Kissel Hill and Lititz Elementary renovated for grades K-5, the middle school for grades 6-8, and high school for grades 9-12.

Option five puts Kissel Hill at risk of being closed, with Bonfield, Lititz El and John Beck for grades K-2 and grades 3-5, the middle school for grades 6-8, and the high school for grades 9-12.

The most extreme option six calls for two schools to be closed, Bonfield and Kissel Hill. Grades K-2 would be at Lititz and John Beck, grades 3-5 at a new intermediate school at the district campus, grades 6-8 at the middle school, and 9-12 at the high school. That option would be the most costly to the school district and leave two schools closed with an uncertain future.

“We want to take a good, hard look at these options, which have taken countless hours to come to,” said Hershey. “This is intended to determine how we see Warwick moving into to future.”

Laura Knowles is a freelance reporter who covers the Warwick School Board beat for the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback at lknowles21@gmail.com.

 

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