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Marlborough Elementary Space Woes to be Solved with Addition?
Written by Kelly Chandler Staff Writer
2016-02-03

        Students and staff being forced to meet in hallways, storage areas, teacher workrooms and even closets at Marlborough Elementary School may soon have some reprieve. 

        On Jan. 28 Upper Perkiomen School District officials looked at options for accommodating the population at that school and Upper Perkiomen Middle School, as well as renovations to other district buildings, as part of a feasibility study by engineers Breslin, Ridyard and Fadero of Allentown.

        According to the engineers, Marlborough Elementary has a capacity of 721 but currently has 727 students.  It was designed by the same firm back in 1988, and opened in 1991, for kindergarten to fourth grade students.  Over the years it saw increasing need for multiple special education classrooms, an additional kindergarten room and a computer room.

        Projections by the Montgomery County Planning Commission in a recent enrollment study estimate that Marlborough will see an additional 50 students by 2019.

        An addition at the site, pegged around $5.26 million, would see the construction of four additional kindergarten classrooms, and four small group classrooms, adjacent to the school's parking lot on the Route 29 side of the building.  That would free up the kindergarten classrooms in the other portion of the existing building.

        Another option would see the construction of the same amount of additional classrooms at the side of the property adjacent to the former Youth and Family Services building.  Sewer and water lines from the Montgomery County Park system, however, would go through the middle of that space and the location would be less centralized for the library and the cafeteria, officials said.  That construction was estimated at $5.3 million.

        A third option would be the construction of a kindergarten center at the education center on E. Buck Road in Upper Hanover Township.  Engineer Bob Breslin said that would require constructing nine classrooms (four from Marlborough and five from Hereford Elementary) in an addition to the building, a cafeteria, multi-purpose and boiler rooms.  That construction was estimated at $7.7 million.   

        "Our issue at Marlborough is that we don't have enough space today, not tomorrow, today," said Superintendent Dr. Alexis McGloin. 

        "Talking about Marlborough… they are packed like sardines in that school, said Director Mike Elliott.  "As an insurance agent I think about what about if there's a fire there and all the kids have to get out and there's all this stuff blocking the way…There's a hazard there."  

        Breslin noted the addition could be completed in Sept. 2017 if authorization is given by this March.

         "It's a little outrageous I think, that we're having classes in closets, and if it's going to be a year and a half, I think we need to think about what we're doing for that year and a half," said Director Kerry Drake.

        Director John Farris asked about the school's enrollment, which was 3,476 in 1996, 200 students less than the district has currently.  McGloin noted the mandates for things like special education and the like were very different in the 1990's and didn't require separate spaces. 

        Breslin said Hereford Elementary, according to the enrollment study, wouldn't see an increase in students over the next 10 years.

        An addition was also proposed at Upper Perkiomen Middle School, which is slated to see an increase of 79 students over its capacity the next several years, Breslin said.  Improvements to make a more secure entrance at the site with a "man trap," add five regular classrooms and one special ed space, update the auditorium and fixing a set of stairs and installing an elevator, among other projects.  Those improvements are estimated to cost between $5.8 and $6 million.

        Other suggested improvements were at Upper Perkiomen High School, which was also not projected to near capacity.       Those projects were the construction of a more secure entrance, at a cost of $400,000 to $600,000 and milling and replacing asphalt at the property at $728,000, among others.

        The same study by the engineering firm also examined the needs of all the district's facilities, some of which would be addressed by any construction or renovations.  The highest priority items at all five buildings totaled $9 million and would need to be addressed over the next few years, McGloin said.

        In other news, Upper Perkiomen High School Principal Dr. Rob Carpenter laid out a conceptual plan for a freshman center at the school, which would see ninth-grade students and staff mainly operating out of one section of the building.  Those students, and the same group of teachers, would help the students' transition, officials said.

        Carpenter and Upper Perkiomen Director of Pupil Services and Special Education Dr. Andrea Farina also spoke about changes they proposed for the gifted program at the high school.  The program would include more than humanities and would offer an AP world culture class to tenth-grade students as well as a 9-12 gifted seminar class.

        Farina said all students in gifted classes would have to be tested and receive a GIEP (gifted individualized education program) to take gifted classes.

        Some parents in the audience, who didn't identify themselves, told administrators they didn't necessarily want their students to be labeled as gifted.  Instead they wanted students to be able to take that level of classes, without being tested, if their abilities allow them to do so.

        Discussion will continue on the changes to that program, administrators said.       


 

 

 

 

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