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Health Plan and Pennington Board Update

Health Plan and Pennington Board Update
Posted on 08/25/2022
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Dear School Community,

At last Tuesday night’s Board Meeting, two important decisions regarding the district health plan and the Pennington School were made that I wanted to bring to your attention. 

District Health Plan

The Board unanimously approved the 2022-23 District Health and Safety Plan and also supported the goal of normalizing student life throughout the school community. Likewise, they supported normalizing the roles and responsibilities of our employees as we will remove many of our “health department” responsibilities. The other important aspects of the plan for the school community include:

  • Masking–is now an individual choice and the district will respect those choices. There is no plan to mandate masking; however, we encourage masking when transmission levels are in the high category.

  • Communication of Transmission Levels–I plan to send communications related to transmission levels. However, for individuals who have a keen interest, the CDC data is accessible to everyone. It can be found by CLICKING HERE and entering Delaware County, Pennsylvania in the drop down menus. As with any outbreak within a classroom or school–COVID, influenza, rotaviruses, pertussis, etc.–the district, in consultation with the department of health, will communicate appropriately.

  • Testing–as in the past, parents will still have to consent to the district administering a COVID test to their children. Regardless of the test, students who are symptomatic or who have a fever will be sent home until they are asymptomatic and fever free for 24 hours.

To access the district Health Plan, CLICK HERE

Pennington School

Formerly a district elementary school, the now vacant Pennington School, which sits between the high school parking lot and Bethel Road, was occupied through a lease agreement with the Delaware County Intermediate Unit for several years. After the DCIU moved out of the space approximately 5 years ago, the district convened a group of over 35 parents, educators, and community members to brainstorm ideas regarding its future use. Unfortunately, as we brainstormed ideas, our consultants determined that any new uses of the building would be complicated, or made impossible, by a lack of ADA compliance as well as issues with fire code, wiring, HVAC, etc. In other words, a large part of the building was deemed unusable.

As a result, the Board needed to understand if it was more effective to completely raze the building or renovate it. After engaging the Schrader Group, a full-service architecture and engineering firm that focuses on academic, public safety, mission critical, and athletic building design, the Board decided to move forward with developing a plan that would raze the dilapidated sections of the building and maintain its core structure. Consequently, the district and the Schrader Group are working together to develop a plan that will potentially relocate the following mission critical aspects of the district to the Pennington School:

  • The Transportation Department and its fleet of vehicles from the middle school (where the back parking lot has become problematic and unsafe over the years).

  • The Maintenance Department from the house at the entrance of the high school to the building (this area will become problematic when the Smithbridge Road widening project begins).

  • The Special Education department’s job training lab and Community Living Program (since there is not available space to run this mandatory program, the district currently rents an apartment at Lantern Apartments to teach our life skills students how to live independently),

  • The district’s major technology equipment and eSchool labs (which are housed in closets and other areas not designed for the current magnitude of equipment).

  • Large group instructional spaces.

Related to this project, the district is also studying the upper field complex at the high school. There have been significant erosion issues that are causing an abundance of problems with water runoff, the playability of the fields, and safety. Since the property is in close proximity to the Pennington School, the Board thought it was best to study the totality of the work in and around both areas. 

To this end, last night the Board approved $10M to move forward with planning, design, and critical work. This  decision, however, does not mean that the district is committed to moving forward with either project. Instead, it only approves the expense of planning and design and a portion of the totality of the projects.  

More information will be provided as progress is made, but it’s important to highlight that an estimate for the work for the Pennington School renovations could be between $17M and $19M. Fortunately, the district would be able to wrap the debt into existing debt service structures that are already budgeted. In other words, the district believes this work can be done without a spike in taxes. For those of you who would like more specifics the following links may help:

  • To view the Pennington Reuse Feasibility Study and Site Master Planning Document that the Schrader Group created, click here.

  • To view the presentation made by PFM, the district’s financial consultants, at the August 23rd Board Meeting, click here.

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent

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