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New Year, old growing pains.

Transition issues already present in the Cumberland Valley and Mechanicsburg school districts will carry over into 2019.

Both districts have turned in recent years to new school construction, building renovations and adjustments to attendance patterns as solutions to ongoing enrollment increases and changes in educational programming.

Here is how the New Year may play out:

Cumberland Valley School District

This district has one building under construction at Bali Hai and Lambs Gap roads in Hampden Township. Though scheduled for completion in March, Mountain View Middle School will not open for students until late August 2019.

It makes no sense to transfer students to Mountain View one month before the state testing cycle in April, Superintendent Fred Withum III said this summer. By the time state testing is complete, there is not enough time left in the academic year to justify the cost of operating new bus runs to the school.

Mountain View shares a campus with the Winding Creek Elementary School, which opened for students this past August. That same month, The Sentinel reported that enrollment growth was so rapid that both buildings will essentially fill up as soon as they open. That would put the district back to the baseline it had five years ago.

In June, Cumberland Valley abandoned its eminent domain case involving the McCormick Farm in the face of heavy legal opposition from the preservation group Natural Lands and a new state law that imposed stricter requirements.

At last word, the district was still considering the possibility of acquiring new property, but was also weighing options that would require a significant expansion and renovation of the Eagle View Middle School and possible changes to Silver Spring Elementary School. Both buildings are on the main campus in Silver Spring Township.

The district has experienced record growth among younger students in recent years. As these large classes move up, it is creating an impending bulge of students at the middle school level, making building capacity in those grades the most pressing issue facing Cumberland Valley.

On Sept. 17, Withum reported a student enrollment of 9,287 compared to 9,009 in mid-February.

Mechanicsburg Area School District

The board in mid-November authorized district staff to solicit contractor bids for planned building projects at Upper Allen and Shepherdstown elementary schools. Bids are due in January with work expected to begin in the spring and last around 18 months. The plan is to have both projects completed by the start of the 2020-21 year.

This is being done as part of a strategy to expand and renovate all district buildings over the next five years to accommodate increasing enrollment and changing educational and activity needs. In mid-November 2017, board members approved new attendance areas for 2018-19 that affected students in the elementary grades. The board in March awarded $14.4 million in contracts for a major expansion and renovation of the Kindergarten Academy at Filbert Street. That project started in the spring and is scheduled for completion in fall 2019.

The goal of the academy project is to accommodate growing enrollment with a scope of work that includes the construction of a new classroom wing with district administrative offices on the second floor. The district offices were displaced from the second floor of the Elmwood Elementary School, which went through a $1 million conversion from a grade 1-5 building to the district center for grades 4 and 5. The district’s remaining elementary schools — Broad Street, Northside, Shepherdstown and Upper Allen — have switched from a configuration of grades 1-5 to grades 1-3.

Board approval of the Upper Allen and Shepherdstown project contracts could come in February. Estimated at $10.6 million, the Upper Allen project would renovate 42,660 square feet of the 49,725-square-foot building. The $17.6 million project for Shepherdstown involves renovating 18,130 square feet of the 30,638-square-foot building and removing other portions. The scope of work for Shepherdstown also calls for a 45,566-square-foot addition that would give the school 63,696 square feet, or more than double its current capacity.

Finally, the board last summer approved $4.5 million in contracts for the Wildcat Activity Center that is now under construction behind the high school. This 15,000-square-foot facility will include a main gymnasium, an auxiliary gym, additional sports locker rooms, equipment storage areas, a concession stand and a lobby. It could be finished by July.

Enrollment in Mechanicsburg numbered about 4,023 students in 2017-18, a jump of nearly 170 students since 2015-16.

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Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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