Q:It's being called a 9th-grade center, but is it accurate to say that 9th-grade will be fully integrated into the campus but will have their own "pod" based on one of the proposed site layouts for option 1.
A:The current concept is not final and much of this will be determined during the design process. However, the current thinking would be that 9th grade would be specific to a pod or pods for their major classes but integrated into the building for electives such as physical education, music, technology education, family consumer science, and art. Additionally, there would be one common area in which all grades would eat lunch.
Q: Originally a detached 9th-grade center was proposed. Why is that no longer being proposed? 9th grade is a pivotal year, and a separate building would provide the benefits of HS course availability for high achievers while shielding the majority of 9th graders from inappropriate HS behavior and bullying.
A: There was a discussion of this in the beginning stages of planning. While the design process will determine exactly what the look, feel, and function of the building will be, adding a completely separate building would greatly increase costs due to needed "common" spaces such as cafeteria, auditorium, and music spaces.
Q: When is the voting for the 9th-grade addition?
A: The current thought is December 2023 or January 2024.If the PA presidential primary date changes, that could impact the date.
Q:Is there an option to build the 9th-grade center and just make necessary renovations to NPHS?
A: Yes.This could happen as a part of the design process. The current Option 1 would afford us the flexibility to make dramatic changes to the building but there is an option in between option 1 and option 2; the referendum would still be necessary for this modified option due to future projects.
Q:What steps are you taking to keep class sizes small as you plan this exciting renovation?
A:Teacher staffing levels will, as always, be a consideration. If an addition is completed to add ninth grade to the campus, the appropriate number of teachers needed to keep class size at current levels would be transferred to the high school campus when the project concludes and the move is made.In fact, teaching all ninth graders in one location, instead of three, will allow us to streamline resource efficiency and could bring the class size down a bit.
Q: Will there be defined classroom spaces? The option #1 plan currently looks like the 'open classroom' idea that was popular in the 1970s.
A: Yes, there will still be defined classroom spaces. However, this option provides greater flexibility in regard to instruction.
Q; What sustainable features will be incorporated into the project?
A: The sustainable features have not been determined at this time.The sustainable features will be discussed during the design development phase of the design. What we do know, for certain, is that the Board and administration intend to utilize "green" and sustainable components
Q: Have there been studies just to build a new state-of-the-art building on the open areas currently occupied by the football field, baseball fields, and tennis courts, etc. (open lands on the corner) and temporarily relocate these activities to other Township fields or community colleges nearby?
A: This option was explored and determined that the site is not large enough to house a new state-of-the-art high school and demolish the existing building.In addition, if a new building were to be built on the open areas, this would require a small footprint, multi-story building to accommodate the needs of the high school.
Q: In the current redesigned option, it appears teachers' planning is communal. How will this new plan allow teachers a quiet space to have students make up missed work? This communal option also does not seem to guarantee teachers a silent zone to grade/plan. How does this help already-burdened teachers?
A: This building has not been designed, yet.What was shared was a community college model as an option for streamlining efficiencies.In buildings where this philosophy was incorporated in the design, there are a significant number of "instructional" spaces throughout the building that can be utilized for the purpose of small group instruction.A good example is instruction at the college level.Just because an instructor doesn't "own" a classroom does not mean that the instructor cannot meet with students to provide additional help.
Q: How will teachers/security be able to monitor students in the multiple large group settings throughout the building?
A: Newer construction leans into "security via transparency", hardware systems and secure spaces will be more plentiful, but surveillance and "see something/say something" will be more communal due to lines of sight and visibility.
Q: Will there be any changes or updates to security or security protocols with the ninth graders being in the same building creating a structure housing 4000+ people?
A: Staffing levels would certainly be adjusted to appropriately address the increase in population on the high school campus. Other changes, such as upgrades to security hardware and emergency response would be planned in conjunction with the design process.
Q: What safety measures are put in place, Have bulletproof doors to entryways surrounding the school ever been talked about?
A: This will all be decided during the design phase.Currently, our buildings are protected with shatter-proof film on all exterior windows/doors.
Q: How long does it take to finish the new construction? Will students be impacted? What is the timeframe that you imagine the high school will be ready for 9th graders?
A: Proposed completion 2029; Unfortunately, a total building renovation will cause significant disruption to the campus. The architects will prioritize the most invasive components of the project during summer break and during the holidays to limit the disruption.
Q: Will my current 6th or 8th grader be able to experience the new high school?
A: Our elementary students will be the first to experience the new building.
Q: What is the timeline for transitioning and/or relocating students? When would 6th graders be moved to the middle schools?When would the 9th graders move up to high school? Would any students have to change schools and temporarily attend there during construction until the final transition is made to the permanent location?Would other grades be impacted by having to temporarily relocate due to construction?
A: The 6th-grade question is for future consideration.9th graders would move up at the conclusion of the construction, approximately 2029; Not anticipating any temporary relocation/boundary changes.
Q:How would the adverse impacts of attempting to learn in an active construction zone be mitigated?
A:We would prioritize projects and complete those that are less invasive during the academic year. We would build the 9th-grade addition first to significantly reduce impact in spaces undergoing active renovation.
Q:How will the stages of the project impact students at the high school with regard to moving around and possibly not having use of certain facilities during the construction project? Would the "swap" to the 9th-grade facility while the HS building gets reconstructed be complete, or will there be a partial migration there for some classes, while kids are moving back and forth between the buildings?What will this look like?
A: There is no question that the traditional operation of the building will be disrupted. Utilizing an addition will help to minimize the impact on students, academically.Students will, however, need to traverse some challenging spaces at times. The transitions or "swaps" from one pod to the next would be orchestrated over breaks, weekends, or other opportune times
Q:What kind of system will replace the current HVAC system at the high school? Is there any possibility of switching to greener technology like air source or geothermal heat pumps?
A: The type of HVAC systems has not been determined at this time.The type of HVAC systems will be discussed during the design process.
Q: Will the 9th-grade center be state-of-the-art in terms of being a green building?Seems like it should be zero fossil fuels, solar panels, etc.
A: The sustainable features have not been determined at this time.The sustainable features will be discussed during the design development phase of the design.
Q: It sounded like the entire project could have been completed within the existing limits of the Local Government Unit Debt Act, so why was the direction to go for the referendum?
A: NPSD’s borrowing capacity extends beyond the projected cost, but that does not mean the district can afford the debt service for borrowing that much money. As an example, a person’s credit card limit is likely far beyond what is fiscally responsible for putting on credit.
Q: The cost of Upper Merion HS was reported as $110 million for 345,000 square feet. How is this project to renovate and add to NPHS substantially more money? What is the existing square feet of NPHS and proposed additional square feet for option 1?
A: When complete, NPHS will be more than 700,000 square feet AND construction costs and the cost of financing have risen dramatically since well before the pandemic Upper Merion contracted and began construction of its high school.
Q:Regarding the Upper Merion HS project, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported the district "lost" or paid an additional $25 million due to interest-rate swaps at the advice of PFM, the same advisor NPSD is using. Would this practice be part of the financing plans of NP?
A: NPSD is not currently planning cash-settled forward swaps, however, all options will be examined.
Q:How will this project be funded? Does President Biden's Build Back Better bill help with part of the cost?
A:Tax-exempt bonds will be the likely source of the financing, however, all options will be examined.
Q: If the difference between the two options is more than just the cost of the 9th-grade addition, why is that the only portion proposed to be part of a referendum?
A:The reason is the impact of moving the 9th grade out and future projects; the 10-12 portion will be renovated, regardless, the referendum will decide whether or not 9th grade moves. Additionally, the referendum would afford further flexibility in the future.
A: That will depend upon the decision to move the 9th grade to the NPHS campus (or not).If 9th grade does move, there will need to be a decision made regarding 6th-grade years from now, which will determine the future of our middle school facilities.
Q: Why is the question of adding another high school to this district not on the table?The population of this district is growing at an alarming rate and it might be a good conversation to have at this point.
A: The concept of building another high school is cost prohibitive.Doing so would not eliminate the need to renovate our current facility.Land acquisition and a new building would exceed the projected costs of Option 1 or 2, and then a renovation would still be necessary of the current structure.The statement that "the population of this district is growing at an alarming rate" is inaccurate.Student populations have remained stable for the past 20 years.The recent enrollment study was presented to the community at the January work session.