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Chester County Press

Kennett School Board schedules building project vote for June 13

05/17/2022 01:20PM ● By Steven Hoffman
The members of the Kennett Consolidated School Board will vote at their June 13 meeting on a motion to proceed with plans for the replacement of two of the district’s three elementary schools.
The board engaged Breslin Architects of Allentown in October for the project. Breslin principals Steve Behrens and Michael Bell then proceeded to explore the possibilities of replacing or renovating Greenwood Elementary (in Kennett Township) and New Garden Elementary (in New Garden Township) schools. 
Both schools are more than a half-century old and showing numerous signs of aging. New Garden Elementary was built beginning in 1955 and opened in September of 1957. Greenwood Elementary opened in September of 1963, according to the book “Yesterday and Today” by late Kennett News and Advertiser editor Richard Taylor. 
Behrens and Bell reported at the board’s May 2 Finance Committee meeting the results of a feasibility study they conducted. Their recommendation was “Option 2B: Construct new 750-student capacity schools on existing sites.”
Option 1A was to renovate the schools, Option 2A was new schools with part of Greenwood’s old school remaining. The estimated cost of Option 2A was listed as $98 million.
The reasons that Breslin Architects gave for not choosing 1A renovations, which would be slightly cheaper, are constraints on learning space, longer construction time, risk of unforeseen conditions, continued maintenance on the old buildings and accessibility to compliance challenges.
Several benefits of 2A and B they listed were less construction times, less construction disturbances, green design opportunities and technology integration.
Several issues still to be dealt with that they mentioned at an earlier meeting are getting municipal sewage handling and accommodating the steep hill, both at Greenwood. The presence of the hill prompted them to propose a two-story building for placement on Greenwood’s hill.
The vote scheduled for the June 13 school board meeting will be to proceed with the project, but not for approvals or rejections of the actual structures, functions and land use of the new buildings.
In other business:  
Kennett High School students Zackary Buckwash and Ibrahim Rana received board approval at the May 9 meeting to organize a school-wide club called Aevidum. This is a group that has been spreading in schools nationwide according to news reports. It stands for “I’ve got your back.”
Rana said the purpose is to assure fellow students who have depression and anxiety that they are welcomed and have friends to support them. He added that 30 students attended the first meeting. He also said Aevudum shows others they are not alone and sheds light on some issues that are often ignored.
“We will stick together and educate fellow students that we have their back,” he said.
Buckwash said he had depression in earlier grades. “No one should have to endure the depression and anxiety that I did,” he said.
Assistant Superintendent Michael Barber reported and was approved by the board for the district to embark on a program called Teacher Education Pipeline. It provides a pathway to teaching beginning in high school.
The program is a partnership with West Chester University. By enrolling in it prior to college age, and students can declare their interest in teaching in the future and begin taking courses for credit while at Kennett. The program would follow them through college and even to internships with a possible return to teaching at Kennett.