School board ponders improvement options

By on February 14, 2018

Warwick Middle School students’ award-winning entry in the 12th Annual Central Pennsylvania Future City Competition, for which they took first place for their vision of the city of Berlin, in the year 2200. (Front row, left to right) Liam Zee, Connor Henry, Xavier Flaiz, Carter Hain, and Gavin Clausen; (back, l-r) Alexa Wenger, Kendall Morgan, Theo Lance, and Jonah Lenahan.

The Warwick School Board trimmed its future capital improvement options to two proposals at its Feb. 6 committee of the whole meeting.

Representatives from RLPS Architects provided a follow-up to the school district’s feasibility study, outlining four possible renovations and updates to district buildings within the next five years.

After hearing outlines of the four different options, the board requested further study of two, Options 2 and 3.

Both options include estimated construction-only costs of $64,661 and don’t include personnel, transportation or operations costs.

“It will be years out for this, and I want to stress that there are no plans to raise taxes to pay for this,” said Warwick School District Superintendent Dr. April Hershey, noting the the school district is looking at financing options that will not require tax increases.

Options 1 and 4 were eliminated for further study.

Option 1, which estimated construction costs of $52,280, included necessary updates and renovations and no planned major enhancements to existing schools.

The least favored proposal, Option 4, which estimated constructions costs of $64,661. suggested the closure of John R. Bonfield Elementary School. Despite declining enrollment, the board is hesitant to close a school and risk not being able to grow if needed.

“I want to stress that these are just preliminary plans,” said Hershey, adding that there will be considerable in-depth study before either Option 2 or Option 3 are pursued for future planning.

The community will be involved in the process each step of the way and the presentation will be available on the school district’s website at warwicksd.org.

Erin Hoffman and Craig Kimmel, of RLPS, presented the four options and will be completing further study of Option 2 and Option 3. They have been involved in district-wide feasibility studies with educators, parents and students. In October, a community input meeting was held at Warwick Middle School to present six options. Two of them were eliminated because they required closing several schools and one involved closing schools and building a new school.

The top two candidates do not require closing any schools, and mainly involve restructuring the existing schools for different grade levels.

All options presented include renovations at John Beck and Kissel Hill elementaries. Each also suggests improvements to the high school’s athletic area — renovating the gym and improving air-conditioning.

The options are all geared toward 21st Century learning, which encompasses flexible classroom spaces, the use of advanced technology, collaborative learning and creative thinking.

Option 2 calls for the addition of Pre-K and K classrooms, with Bonfield 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 at Kissel Hill, grades 1-4 at John Beck and Lititz Elementary, 5-6 at Bonfield, 7-8 at Warwick Middle School, and 9-12 at Warwick High School.

Option 3 also has varying school levels, but they would be reconfigured differently. John Beck, Kissel Hill and Lititz elementaries would all be grades K through 4. Bonfield would be transitioned into an Intermediate School with grades 5-6. The middle school would have grades 7-8, and the high school would have grades 9-12. There would not be a separate Pre-K-K school.

Major renovations in the schools would involve exterior walls, roofing systems, windows and doors, interior walls, restrooms, casework, finishes such as paint and flooring, locker rooms, and systems that include electrical, plumbing, mechanical and fire protection.

“These proposed options are more of a philosophical question,” said Kimmel, noting that the school district will need to look at how the reconfigured schools fit in with their vision for the future.

In other news…much further into the future, Warwick Middle School students showed their award-winning entry in the 12th Annual Central Pennsylvania Future City Competition, for which they took first place for their vision of the city of Berlin, in the year 2200.

They will be competing in the National Competition in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 20.

The team was tasked with designing a virtual SimCity, that would address the needs of an aging population. Their design focused on a concept that adapted historic buildings and structures for future use. The mirrored design was artistically imagined with real-looking trees and natural settings.

The students developed structural modifications that to provide interactive and integrated living for older citizens, including personal assistants that would allow them to continue living in their private residences and be involved in the community.

The team was led by middle school teacher Michael Smith and mentored by Jay Lance.

Students included Kendall Morgan, Alexa Wenger, Bella Meier, Lauren Matt, Theo Lance, Christian Kegel, Xavier Flaiz, Conner Henry, Gavin Clausen, Aiden Troop, Liam Zee, Matthew Bacon, Joseph Conrad, Connor Eisenbach, Sam Forgione, Carter Hain, Charlie Kramer, Jonah Lenahan, Logan Mull, Riley Norman, Kennedi Reiff, Yiorgos Roumeliotis, Chris Stauffer, Declan Swarr, Ivan Tejada, Will Wickenheiser, and Adam Zimmerman.

“It’s incredible,” said school board member Leslie Penkunas in reaction to the project. “I think you should win.”

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *