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Chester County Press

Kennett School Board approves plan to build two new elementary schools

06/14/2022 01:23PM ● By Steven Hoffman
The Kennett Consolidated School District will proceed with plans to replace Greenwood and New Garden elementary schools with new buildings.
The board members voted unanimously at the meeting on Monday night to accept what was known as “Plan 2B” – to build entirely new buildings on the existing school sites and tear down the old buildings.
Business Manager Mark Tracy detailed the plan at length and said the tentative time line was to have the Greenwood Elementary School finished by fall of 2025 and the New Garden school to be completed by fall of 2026.
That could change depending on circumstances, he said.
He added that both buildings would have a capacity of 750 students, and the project is estimated to cause no tax increase.
Various members of the board spoke in support for the motion. 
Board member Ethan Cramer compared the decision to construct a new building with a family’s decision to buy a new car to replace the old one that was requiring too many repairs.
Board President Vicki Gehrt said with the opening of the two new schools, district citizens would be assured of a consistency for educational standards throughout the district and a modern building that would measure up to the quality of the more recently built Bancroft Elementary School.
She added that the vote to proceed will be followed by several focus groups of citizens offering input about how the building will look and what they want to contribute regarding curriculum.
Financial Committee chairman Mike Finnegan said still to be discussed are educational specifications, infrastructure, security and colors.
One of the benefits of constructing two entirely new buildings rather than doing renovations to the old ones is that the students’ schedules and moving about in the old schools would not be disrupted by the (rejected) plan to do updates.
The estimated cost to construct the two new school buildings is $98 million.
Tracy said the federal Department of Environmental Protection requires a survey to assure that the construction project does not cause an environmental disruption – specifically if any endangered species would be affected by the project.
Two small wetlands were identified on the properties, and a search was conducted on the more serious areas on the Greenwood property for endangered bog turtles. 
After four searches, he said, they found no trace of bog turtles.