FES Expansion FAQs
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Community Input to the Planning of the Expanded FES
Will there be an opportunity for the architect to meet with the community to address any issues or concerns on behalf of the community?
Yes, a timeline was shared as part of the Franklin Park Community presentation on April 17, 2018 detailing the next steps in the process including outlining several opportunities where information will be shared with the North Allegheny School District School Board and the Franklin Elementary School community.
Event Date Architect presents schematic designs to the School Board April 18, 2018 Review schematic design with FES community May 9, 2018 (7:00 p.m.) Review 75% design with FES community October 12, 2018 (9:30 a.m.) Project goes out to bid February, 2019 Review final plans and construction schedule March, 2019 Construction begins Summer, 2019 Renovated school opens (coincides with redistricting) Fall, 2020
How will traffic be handled if FES is expanded and will a traffic study be conducted?
A traffic study will be conducted and the District will use this information to review the impact on nearby roads in order to provide input on traffic circulation at the school site.
Will parking increase?
Parking spaces on the campus will be increased based on local requirements and input from the traffic study. The current draft already incorporates more than the double the current parking capacity.
How does the District plan to pay for the renovations and additions?
The District typically takes out a bond for renovations and additions.
Is the cost to build a new school similar to the expansion of FES?
Three different options were explored to increasing capacity related to changes at FES and approximate costs were provided for each. The renovation and expansion of the FES was the most cost-effective option of the three options.
- Build another small elementary school and renovate FES
- Total cost = $34.5 - $40.7 million (does not include possible land acquisition)
- Replace a current small elementary school with a larger school
- Total cost = $42 - $51 million
- Expand and renovate Franklin Elementary School
- Total cost = $28.1 - $31.1 million
Will the district also consider a full-day kindergarten in these future plans?
Currently there are no immediate plans to move to a full-day kindergarten program at North Allegheny School District.
Will the YMCA program remain at FES as part of the renovation and expansion plans?
Yes, the plans include a dedicated space for the current YMCA before and after school program. The expansion would also allow the YMCA to potentially add a kindergarten program similar to what is now offered at Marshall and McKnight Elementary Schools. The program is a half-day AM program offered by the YMCA which allows students to remain at the schools all day through attending the YMCA program in the AM and kindergarten in the PM.
Is completing two construction projects simultaneously in the District feasible?
The District has completed multiple construction projects at the same time over the course of one or more summers. Most recently the renovations at Marshall Elementary, Marshall Middle School, and Bradford Woods Elementary School were done during the same two consecutive summers.
Can’t the expansion be phased in, so we build a few extra classrooms now, then add more in a few years if in fact the demographers forecast is accurate? This way if growth does not occur as expected, we haven’t made Franklin Elementary too big.
If additional space is needed in the near future, it is always more cost effective to build at once, rather than try to piece together multiple renovations. Also, even if the growth does not occur as expected, expanding Franklin to the proposed six sections per grade would still allow for rebalancing students from Marshall, Bradford Woods, Ingomar, and McKnight to reduce student travel times and better align to communities. It would also allow for additional growth in order to decrease the frequency that the District needs to redistrict.
Will construction occur during the school year?
The majority of the renovations will occur during the summer so as to have the slightest impact on student learning. There will be parts of the expansion which will be brand new portions of the building, therefore some of the construction can occur outside of the summer months without having a direct impact on instruction or the daily operations of the building.
How will the children currently attending FES be acclimated to the new, larger school?
Tours of the building and specific activities will occur prior to the start of school, as well as during the first few days of school to assure that students are comfortable and familiar with the new design of the building. Also, special activities within homerooms and as part of full grade level activities will be used to assist all students in acclimating either to their new and larger FES school or for new students who did not attend FES previously.
For BWE, will portables be used until 2020?
Two portables are planned for the start of the 2018-2019 school year at BWE due to increased enrollment and lack of capacity. It is anticipated that these portables will be needed until the next redistricting. Since elementary capacity is a challenge across the District, there may be some other buildings where this would be needed until we have additional capacity.
Would the proposed expansion increase the number or frequency of extracurricular activities?
Due to the increased size of the building there would be additional opportunities for intramurals and other student activities. Additionally, with the expansion of the FES, the PFA enrollment would increase and, similar to MCK and MES, there is a possibility of additional offerings in after-school classes or activities.
Will students currently at another elementary school need to change schools?
To begin planning for redistricting, the Administration will collect input during the 2018-2019 school year from parents regarding their thoughts and concerns for redistricting. The District will determine which factors will guide the next redistricting. In past redistricting, different factors included: moving the least amount of students, determining redistricting by making clear boundaries for each school that assures student are attending a school close to their home without excessive bus rides, making decisions related to population density and distance from school, etc. Once a final decision is determined for which neighborhoods may be redistricted, final decisions will be made about future school boundaries. Any redistricting would not be implemented until the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.
Should a Franklin Park resident whose child currently attends another school assume that they will be redistricted to FES?
Currently the plan is to implement redistricting starting in the 2020-2021 school year in order to coincide with the opening of an expanded FES. While more students will be attending FES than currently attend FES, it will not be possible for all students in Franklin Park to attend FES. Some students in Franklin Park may actually live closer to a school other than FES.
Will middle school students be redistricted as well?
Yes, decisions about middle schools will be reviewed in conjunction with factors for elementary school redistricting.
Since there is capacity for additional classrooms currently at Franklin, has redistricting a specific neighborhood been considered instead of expanding FES?
While there is some limited extra capacity currently available at FES, there is not enough to alleviate the current and projected capacity problem regarding the entire elementary program.
Has the demographics history of projections been evaluated for accuracy since this data is driving the expansion and redistricting?
Each year, the District develops an Enrollment and Facilities Report. This report highlights a number of factors such as current enrollment, historical enrollment, projected enrollment, retention rates, school capacity and areas of growth within the District. This past year, in conjunction with the Elementary Facilities Assessment, the District hired a professional demographer to project District enrollment for the next ten years. This specific demographer had not been used previously by the North Allegheny School District, however, this individual has been used successfully by a number of school districts throughout the region and his references pointed to the accuracy in his projections.
Has there been thought to getting another demographer to confirm the data since it appears that the data from the last redistricting is very different than that from the most recent demographer?
The District engaged a different demographer from previous years with the most recent study. This individual has been used successfully by a number of school districts throughout the region and his references pointed to the accuracy in his projections.
Is there consideration that even with an expansion growth will increase at a rate that the District will outgrow the expansion and new redistricting plan?
An expansion to Franklin Elementary School will meet our current capacity needs in the District as well as the projected growth over the next ten years. During that time frame, the District will continue to monitor student enrollment and determine if additional capacity is needed beyond that horizon, and if so, what is the best solution for the District.
Are there concerns that the school district is making an expensive, long-term commitment based on one demographer’s view of potential growth?
While the demographers report gives a well-informed perspective on potential growth, it is important to recognize that the District has experienced significant growth over the past few years in the Franklin Park and Marshall communities. Elementary school capacity has not been able to keep up with that growth, resulting in redistricting, disconnected school attendance zones, and an imbalance between where students live and where our schools are located. Expanding Franklin addresses many of the current issues with school alignment and student travel times. In addition to addressing current capacity issues, the demographers report highlights that an expanded Franklin also addresses expected growth within the District.
Doesn’t McKnight have capacity for additional classrooms that are not being utilized that need to be built out?
McKnight will be renovated beginning in the summer of 2019 to be reconfigured and improve flow and grade level locations. Additionally, additional support spaces will be added within McKnight. Currently, we are not projecting excess capacity at McKnight for 2018-2019 that would assist in addressing additional capacity within the District, specifically in the northern and western areas of the District.
How did the demographer take into account that the new houses in Franklin Park are larger, more expensive homes, that are more likely to be bought by families with older kids rather than less expensive homes which may be purchased by families with younger kids?
The demographer looked at a variety of factors, including net migration, when determining the projected enrollment. The study did not include specific information that projected the number of students based on the cost of new housing. However, the demographer did note that families were having children later in life, which often coincided with higher earnings. Another trend the demographer noted is the difference in the number of children the District is seeing who are now living in townhouses or apartments. A significant increase in student enrollment is now being seen from these types of homes which was not the case in prior years.
- Build another small elementary school and renovate FES