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Chester County Press

Kennett School Board will seek public feedback on school construction plans

04/15/2022 12:18PM ● By Steven Hoffman
Breslin Architects of Allentown will release its feasibility study on the future of the New Garden and Greenwood elementary school building projects on May 2 at a Kennett School Board Finance Committee meeting. The study will then be publicly available for reading online the next day.
Feasibility studies are comprehensive assessments of the practicality of proposed plans or methods, and Breslin was the firm chosen by the Kennett School Board to perform that service.
At Monday’s board meeting, Finance Committee chair Mike Finnegan announced that the committee had also established a timeline to follow up publication of that feasibility study.
On Monday, June 6, he said, the public is invited to attend the finance committee meeting at the Mary D. Lang Kindergarten Center at 7 p.m. and give in-person feedback. 
On June 13, following its reaction and deliberations, the board will vote to adopt the feasibility study.
The board announced late last year its intention to explore the future of the two aging buildings, with options of renovating or replacing them. At the Finance Committee meeting in March, the idea of replacing the buildings was met with somewhat more favorable – but unofficial – reactions than the plan that featured renovations for the buildings.
Both schools have served well beyond a half century and are aging. New Garden Elementary School in New Garden Township was opened in 1957. Greenwood Elementary School in Kennett Township was built in 1963.  They are 65 and 59 years old, respectively. 
Also at Monday’s meeting, the board approved hiring D’Huy Engineering of Bethlehem to carry out the engineering for whatever construction plan is chosen.
“They are the design oversight and management. … they are the coordination effort,” Business Manager Mark Tracy said, adding D’Huy is the same firm that is overseeing the construction of the new Avon Grove High School.
School Board President Vicki Gehrt emphasized that vote to adopt the feasibility study and other current board actions are far from the final decisions on the fate of the two buildings. 
“We are not into any design stages yet. Our first step is to determine whether we renovate or build new. We are in the beginning stages and have many steps to go that will continue to engage staff, parents and community,” she wrote early on Monday.
Tracy also announced the proposed final operating budget of $94 million for the 2022-23 school year, which will include a 2.02 percent real estate tax increase. That approval was required by the state to be enacted 30 days before the final budget adoption, which is still dependent upon the state finalizing its budget, including the state subsidy to schools. Kennett’s budget for the next fiscal year could also be impacted by proposed charter school reform as well as a contract for staff.
In other business, the board approved a continuation of a partnership with the Y of the Greater Brandywine Valley – effectively the Y of the Kennett Area – to run a summer academic/camp program that features studies in the morning and recreation in the afternoon.
Board member Donald Kohler announced that the Kennett High School Robotics Team had done very well in regional competition and will now compete for the World Championship in Houston, Texas.
Also, Superintendent Dr. Dusty Blakey announced the incidence of COVID-19 remains low in the district, and the wearing of masks is optional.