A new feasibility study could be in the works for the Cumberland Valley School District less than five years after its most recent study.
At Monday night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Frederick Withum III announced that district officials are performing an “internal study” of various factors that could point to a continuation of what has been rapidly expanding enrollment over the past several years. “We then will decide if we want to go to an outside firm for a more in-depth study,” Withum said.
The decision most likely would occur during development of the district’s 2018-19 budget, which must be finalized by July 1, 2018.
For example, 9,171 students were registered to attend Cumberland Valley schools for the 2017-18 school year in August, a nearly 4-percent jump since the end of the 2016-17 school year. In total, 5.9 percent of the district’s incoming students for this year were new to the district without including kindergarten. Most of the district’s recent growth has occurred in the elementary grades, with “some growth” in middle grades that Withum previously attributed to large upper elementary classes “moving on.”
For now, Withum, joined by Michael Willis, the district’s director of business and support services, and school board president Robert Walker, chair of the district’s facilities committee, are making rounds between district municipalities to gather information for the internal study. Last week, the trio visited Silver Spring Township officials, where officials said they expect to see at least 250 new dwelling units developed annually over the next several years.
Of course, Withum said, this doesn’t necessarily mean that school-age youngsters would reside in each of these proposed dwellings. Other factors must be taken into account, such as how many of the homes are built in age 55-plus communities.
“We’re really at the point we were at three or four years ago,” Withum said, referring to when the district began its last feasibility study. That study resulted in redistricting student attendance zones and the construction of Winding Hill Elementary School and Mountain View Middle School, now ongoing at Bali Hai and Lambs Gap roads in Silver Spring and Hampden townships.
In a related matter, Willis announced construction of the two new schools is two weeks ahead of schedule. Winding Creek Elementary School is scheduled to open in August 2018, followed by the opening of Mountain View Middle School in March 2019.
Also, a section of Bali Hai Road that has remained closed for several months due to school construction is scheduled to reopen on Oct. 31. A new roundabout constructed in the area also is expected to open on that date, Willis said.