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Public meeting on elementary schools is March 26; MASD wants enrollment projections

By Phyllis Zimmerman, Special to the Press & Journal
Posted 3/13/19

With an eye on student growth expectations, the Middletown Area School Board has approved hiring an outside firm to conduct enrollment projection services.

On March 5, the school board agreed for …

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Public meeting on elementary schools is March 26; MASD wants enrollment projections

Posted

With an eye on student growth expectations, the Middletown Area School Board has approved hiring an outside firm to conduct enrollment projection services.

On March 5, the school board agreed for the district to enter a one-year contract with Decision Insite for $13,313 to conduct demographic/enrollment study services. The move comes after months of public discussion about how to best meet future projected enrollment increases in the district’s elementary grades, including possible significant building changes.

“Decision Insite will be able to provide very specific data to the Middletown Area School District about where the anticipated growth will be using enrollment analytics. This information is vital when the school board makes a decision about any future renovation/expansion of Kunkel (Elementary School) or how a possible elementary school reconfiguration could be structured, if the board decides to move in that direction,” Superintendent Lori Suski said Thursday.

Through Decision Insite, the district “wants to do due diligence to ensure that enrollment projections from the PA Department of Education presented by the architect are accurate projections. The architect is not a demographer,” Suski said.

In 2018, consultants to the district recommended that Middletown plan for at least a 10 percent increase. Current elementary enrollment figures were noted at 1,163 in January.  District officials have said that Middletown doesn’t have enough room in its elementary buildings now to accommodate such growth.

Additionally, Kunkel Elementary School, last renovated in 1996, is in need of renovations and expansions.

The school board has scheduled a special meeting for March 26 to continue discussions about elementary level building planning and an update on the district’s synthetic turf stadium project. School board member John Ponnett Jr. urged the board to hold off further discussions about elementary reconfiguration options until the district has completed analysis from Decision Insite.

“We are hoping to have the analysis from Decision Insite for our March 26 meeting, but it is a very aggressive timeline,” Suski noted “Their turnaround is usually two to three weeks. If we don’t have the data for March 26, we may not be discussing anything other than the synthetic turf field project at that meeting and would delay the elementary conversations until April.”

Decision Insite was recommended to Middletown officials by Mechanicsburg Area School District.

The rapidly growing Mechanicsburg district entered a five-year contract with Decision Insite in 2017 to supplement a district feasibility study that was conducted in 2015. For 2018-19, the district initiated a major restructuring of its elementary grades and start times throughout the district that included data from a related transportation study.