The fate of the Kennett Consolidated School District's proposed new elementary school will be decided this coming Monday.The district hopes to build the new school on a 20-plus acre tract along Bancroft Road in New Garden Township, purchased from local resident Mary Sproat for $700,000 and finalized last August.
The plans also call for converting Mary D. Lang Elementary School, located in Kennett Borough, into a full-day kindergarten center.
The $30 million construction project that has been in the works for the past few years hit a snag last spring when the district submitted an alternate version of the footpad layout after receiving preliminary approval from the supervisors.
Since then, the district has been in constant negotiation with the township supervisors and planning commission, hashing out the details over the course of nine hearings and working towards getting the school built as quickly as possible.
According to Township Manager Carmen Raddi, the board is either going to deny the plans, or approve them with conditions. If the project is denied, Raddi said, the district has the right to appeal.
Kennett Superintendent Rudy Karkosak said that the district hopes that the board will accept the agreed upon conditions, allowing the district to get moving on the project.
He added that the conditions should be accepted and that the district is doing more than the law requires - something they should do, he said, as a part of the New Garden community.
"The bottom line is, the zoning allows us to build there with certain conditions," Karkosak said. "We're following the law and we're being as reasonable and as cooperative as we possibly can."
Karkosak said that there is a list of roughly 25 conditions required by the township for approval, including major improvements to both Pemberton and Bancroft Roads. He said the district has also offered to put up an additional $350,000 for improvements, $125,000 of which specifically for an eventual traffic light at Baltimore Pike and Bancroft road.
Karkosak said that he gave the supervisors several reasons when asked to justify why the school should be built in New Garden, including the fact that 55 percent of the district's students come from the township.
He said the district was excited to find the Bancroft Road location as it helps foster the notion of a "neighborhood school" and cuts down on additional busing.
It also helps create a common-students attend school close to their homes, he said.
Karkosak said that pending approval, the district hopes to go out to bid as soon as possible, adding that the current economic climate makes this the perfect bidding time.
"People are hungry for work, and that should make for some competitive bids" he said. "But we have no idea how long that window of opportunity will be available."
Karkosak said that the actual construction could take up to 16 months to complete - a reality that may delay the Sept. 2010 open date.
"It's been a long stretch from June until March," Karkosak said. "That's nearly 10 months where we could have started the building."
He added that while the district administration appreciates the supervisors' attention to detail and to being conscientious about supporting the township, the district is a part of that community, too.
"Especially New Garden, because that's likely where our growth is."