Options for NASD elementary schools narrowed
Part 1 of series
Northampton Area School District considered seven options revolving around the district’s needs and its long-dormant 92.3-acre site at Route 329 and Seemsville Road.
The options are part of a detailed 44-page report, Northampton Area School District Elementary School Options and Facility Improvements, posted March 25 on the district website, nasdschools.org.
The report narrowed options to one - close Franklin and Moore elementary schools and the administration and maintenance buildings and build a new school and administration and maintenance buildings on the Seemsville site.
The report, the first step in a multiyear track to develop a master plan and building project that could extend to the 2025-26 school year, was presented at the March 22 school board meeting by NASD Superintendent of Schools Joseph S. Kovalchik and Arif Fazil, president of D’Huy Engineering Inc.
The NASD Board of Education voted 7-2 at the Feb. 8 meeting to approve an agreement for D’Huy Engineering Inc. to develop a master plan at a cost not to exceed $540,500.
The report is partly based on an analysis completed in 2019 by FutureThink, a Dublin, Ohio-based education planning firm hired by NASD. FutureThink looked at district enrollment, demographics and housing development.
District population is projected to increase 2 percent during the next five years, according to the report. School-age population is projected to increase 1 percent during the next five years, the report states.
FutureThink evaluated existing district buildings in relation to the Seemsville site. These include Franklin Elementary School, the administration building and maintenance building, all in Northampton.
The report lists seven options:
1A - Status quo: All buildings remain open.
1B - Status quo, but close Franklin.
2A - Build new elementary school.
2B - Build new elementary school, close Franklin and move kindergarten students to the new school.
3A-R1 - Build new elementary school and close Moore.
3A-R2 - Build new elementary school and close Moore, based on different enrollment figures.
3B - Build new elementary school and close Moore and Franklin.
In the report, FutureThink redefined elementary school attendance boundaries based on transportation, school enrollment versus functional capacity such as the number of students accommodated in a school’s general and special education spaces and socioeconomics, such as the students getting free or reduced-cost lunches.
FutureThink does not recommend options 1A and 1B because borough elementary schools remain at 98-percent capacity, the redistribution of the socio-economic balance is not addressed and renovations and academic programming would need to be addressed.
Options 2A and 2B are not recommended because Franklin remains open with kindergarten classes moved to a new school, the redistribution of the socio-economic balance is not addressed and renovations and academic programming would need to be addressed.
Options 3A-R1 and 3A-R2 are not recommended because both options maintain five elementary schools and renovations and academic programming would need to be addressed.
FutureThink recommends 3B because it provides equitable distribution of enrollment versus functional capacity, provides growth and adjustment flexibility, provides the best distribution of socio-economic factors between elementary schools, sizes of schools provide cost savings and schools are located strategically to accommodate identified growth.
The FutureThink 21-page portion of the report concludes: “School District owns approximately 90 acres of land along the Rt. 329 corridor that has been identified where the population growth will occur.”
Next in the series: Existing buildings renovations costs
Upcoming: Seemsville project costs
Conclusion: East Allen Township zoning and timetable