Q: What is a feasibility study?
A: A feasibility study is a thorough and detailed assessment of the structural capacities and conditions of all of our school buildings to determine if they can support teaching, learning, community needs, safety and security.
Q: Why are you conducting it now?
A: There are two key reasons. First, the study is a logical step after data projections in May 2013 indicated Upper Merion Area School District would see an increase in enrollment by 2017 that will cause multiple schools to exceed their capacity. The projections showed increases of 3.7 percent at the early elementary level and 2.5 percent at the late elementary and middle school level, which force the District to take a thorough look at each of its school buildings in terms of ability to support growing enrollment.
Also, the feasibility study will enable the district to pinpoint the most pressing work that needs to be performed on some of our oldest school buildings.
Q: Who is conducting the feasibility study?
A: Following interviews with 16 architectural firms, the Administration recommended and the School Board approved that SCHRADERGROUP architecture LLC, be awarded a contract to conduct a District-wide facilities feasibility study. Based in Philadelphia, SCHRADERGROUP architecture is a full-service firm offering planning, programming, and architectural and structural engineering design services for a wide variety of project types, with specific expertise in the areas of academic and public safety facility design.
Q: When does the feasibility study assessment take place?
A: Since June 23, SGA’s architecture and engineering team has been visiting and assessing all the school buildings within our District. An overview on their findings was shared on Thursday, September 4th, at 7:00 P.M. A follow up presentation is scheduled for Monday, October 20, at 7:00 P.M., in the High School LGI room, at which time enrollment projections and building capacity will be discussed.
Q: What happens after the feasibility study is presented?
A: We anticipate that the District will need to ponder a series of potential options for improving the learning environment of our District, either through renovations or new construction. The Administration and School Board will carefully review all options with the community in order to determine which recommendations, if any, are in the best interest of our students and community. The final decision will not be made in haste; thoughtful deliberation and evaluation will be necessary. We want the community to be part of this examination of options as we move through this process.
Q: What new options are being considered for the schools (i.e.: industrial arts class rooms restored to the middle school, new athletic facilities, etc.)?
A: On September 4th, the district presented an overview relative to the state of the current buildings and the costs involved in bringing the buildings up to today’s standards. The architects were charged with providing only that information at this point in time. As we go forward we will invite the community to be part of discussions regarding next steps for improvement. During those discussions we will establish priorities and options for building upgrades or enhancements.
Q: How can I stay abreast of this process?
A: The District is committed to communicating with the public throughout this process and will post updates on the website. There are RSS feed buttons at the bottom of frequently updated pages. Public meetings will also be announced via e-mail notifications and press releases and you are encouraged to attend them.
Q: How do I get involved?
A: Community input is vital to this process and the District is eager to hear perspectives from all stakeholder groups. Click the “Register your Interest” tab and submit the survey form linked in the left column. This will ensure that we have your contact information.