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$29.4 Million School Renovation Project Could Begin This Spring

Four district schools would be renovated due to increasing enrollment.

Major renovations to four Lower Merion schools could begin as soon as this coming spring, according to a district-wide facilities study available on the school district website.  The estimated cost for renovation and construction at the schools is $29.4 million.

Penn Valley Elementary School, Gladwyne Elementary School, Bala Cynwyd Middle School and Welsh Valley Middle School were identified as targets for expansion at a school board meeting in late September. At that time, the plans for expanding the district schools were conceptual and no definitive timelines were given.

The plans followed a May study that predicted that the district's enrollment would outpace the four schools' capacity within about five years, creating what one school representative called a "very significant facilities issue." The study predicted that Gladwyne Elementary would be out of space by the 2013-2014 school year, with other schools to follow.

The Oct. 22 district facilities study presented at Monday's school board meeting recommended the following renovations to district schools, with construction to begin in the coming spring and summer months for work on all four schools. 

The proposed renovations are as follows:

  • Gladwyne ($5.9 million): Second story four-classroom addition, renovations including six modular classrooms to be used during the construction period
  • Penn Valley ($3.2 million): Four-classroom addition at the end of the fifth-grade wing, and other renovations to accommodate projected enrollment
  • Bala Cynwyd MS ($2 million): Convert existing spaces to accommodate projected enrollment needs, including converting a locker room into two classrooms, converting the existing auxiliary gym into classrooms, a minor addition
  • Welsh Valley MS ($18.2 million): Two-story addition to Building A, adding 16 classrooms; other renovations include a secure new vestibule and a fenced-in campus

The facilities study also includes each school's current capacity, the capacity with the renovations, and predicted peak enrollment.

At both middle schools, the student populations at the predicted enrollment peaks in 2017 and 2018 are higher than the buildings' capacity when renovated.

School Current Capacity Capacity with Renovations Peak Predicted Enrollment Gladwyne ES 694 763 743 (in 2016-17) Penn Valley ES 609 653 653 (in 2015-16) Welsh Valley MS 829 1,126 1,148 (in 2017-18) Bala Cynwyd MS 829 956 1,032 (in 2018-19)

According to the Oct. 22 facilities study, additions to Bala Cynwyd Middle School and Gladwyne Elementary could begin as soon as this coming spring, with modular classrooms in place at Gladwyne by the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year. Those temporary classrooms would be used until construction at Gladwyne is completed in Spring 2014. 

At Bala Cynwyd Middle School, renovations would begin in Spring 2013 and be completed around the start of the 2013-14 school year, the facilities study shows.

Construction on Welsh Valley Middle School and Penn Valley Elementary would begin in early summer, with renovations to Penn Valley estimated for completion by the 2013-14 school year as well.

The more extensive and expensive renovations at Welsh Valley Middle School would continue throughout the 2013-14 school year, estimated to be completed by the 2014-15 school year.

What do you think about the proposed renovations? Are the plans, costs and time tables reasonable? Tell us in the comments.

Kris Prendergast October 28, 2012 at 02:22 PM
By the district's own power point presentation, elementary school building capacity is 3612 students. The highest projected elementary enrollments are 3532. Why is construction necessary at the elementary level when children can be accommodated with the existing schools?

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