Plans for the Kennett Consolidated School District's new elementary school continue to progress despite a recent setback with the New Garden Township supervisors.On Monday evening, representatives from Gilbert Architects presented preliminary sketch plans for the proposed school to the KCSD school board at their July business meeting.

The plans are based off of the description outlined in the "ed specs" that Superintendent Rudy Karkosak said were developed last year and then put on hold until a location could be found.

The district entered into an agreement last spring with New Garden resident Mary Sproat to purchase her property on Bancroft Road. Since that time, the design team has been reengaged and the project is moving forward.

Karkosak said that the plans have been modified from the original specifications to accommodate the conditions of the property.

He later added that the changes have not significantly affected the original vision for the school.

"We're honored the intent of the ed specs and the design committee from the very beginning," Karkosak said.

The 9,800-square foot school comes with a preliminary estimated cost between $30 and $33 million, a figure that will likely be reduced once the project has gone through the site development phase, according to architect Lenny Douk.

"As we go though the site development and. going through New Garden Township with land development, we're not sure what we're going to run into with storm water and other requirements, so that number's fluctuated," Douk said.

Karkosak said that the design team started out with an "everything we want" version of the plan that was then reduced according to cost and scope, taking the building down from roughly 120,000-square feet to its current size.

"It's sort of a dream, and then the dream gets refined as you look at the cost, and the space you have available, and decide what is realistic," he said.

Douk presented the floor plans for the mostly single story building and discussed the changes implemented between the original specs and the foot plan.

"We've been through several iterations of the project and looked at all different kinds of scenarios," Douk said.

The biggest change was the addition of a partial two-story section of the south side of the building, a change that Douk said was prompted by the strength and topography of the site.

Douk said that the idea behind the current plan was to separate the educational (or more private side) with the more public side of the building.

The classrooms are grouped on the south side in five "pod" areas with six classrooms to each pod and space for five additional future classrooms if necessary.

There is also additional educational and administrational support space, library, a media center, a gymnasium that doubles as an auditorium and large group instruction space and a cafeteria with retractable tables that frees the location up for additional uses.

Both the gymnasium and cafeteria were slightly altered from the original specifications.

There are also specific classrooms dedicated to special education and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.

"We needed to be aware of the fact [that our] special ed classrooms are not self-contained units in some part of the building, that they're actually included into [the classroom area]," Karkosak said.

According to Karkosak, the school is being designed to support 650 children, with additional space for close to 100 more as needed. He said the district estimates that 550 students will call the new school home when the doors are opened in September 2010.

The project cannot go out to bid until and the Pennsylvania department of Education has received the necessary documents and approved the plans, which Senior Project Manager Kenneth Johnson said should be by winter provided that an agreement can be reached with regards to the town-ship's requests.

The district recently hit a snag with the township's development process when plans presented during a conditional use hearing differed from ones presented at a previous hearing.

Prior to Monday evening's presentation, Karkosak said that this version of the plan is the one the district would be submitting to the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors for approval.

Johnson added that the PlanConA documents, which will include the entire plan and the cost, would be presented to the board for approval in September.

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