UCF board to decide on school building utilization study

The Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board
will decide at its Oct. 17 meeting whether to proceed with a study on whether
to reconfigure the elementary school’s in the district.

A potential outcome of a building
utilization study could be to have a district elementary school “split
configuration.” The two smaller elementary schools, Chadds Ford and Hillendale,
would be K through 2 grade schools while Unionville and Pocopson elementary
schools would be for grades three through five.

According to board Vice President Frank
Murphy, “If the [Oct. 17] board vote approves a building utilization study,
there is no preconceived notion regarding the ‘pros and cons’ of
reconfiguration. The purpose of a study will be to determine the potential cost
savings and benefits of reconfiguration and the impact on the students and
their parents.”

During the Oct. 10 work session, resident
Perk Mussachio, of Pocopson Township, said he doesn’t like the idea.

“As a parent and longtime U-CF teacher, I
believe elementary school reconfiguration would be very disruptive and damaging
to elementary school students,” Mussachio said. “The emotional impact would
outweigh potential cost savings benefits of moving the students to split configuration
elementary schools.”

Norm Anderson, a retired U-CF educator
from East Marlboro Township, agreed.

“There have been numerous studies
conducted by public school districts throughout the United States which
conclude adding another elementary school transition is not in the best
emotional and educational interests of the students,” he said.

Anderson will forward his analysis of such
reports to Murphy and other board members.

“Numerous studies including the Wren
study, speak to students being adversely affected by transitions,” he
continued. “Negative transition impact includes scholastic achievement loss,
student feelings of anonymity, and decreases in student participation in school
extracurricular activity. The Wren study states: ‘As grade span configuration increases
so does achievement. The more grade levels that a school provides, the better
the students perform. The more
transitions a student makes, the worse the student performs. The longer a student stays in a given
school, the better the student performs.’”

At the close of the work session, board
member Corrine Sweeney said that she would not support including elementary
school building utilization as a 2011–2012 District goal.

“We have previously studied building
utilization and concluded the cost savings generated by eliminating some costs
are greatly outweighed by the benefit of our current neighborhood elementary
school configuration,” Sweeney said.

Frank Murphy said a study might prove
beneficial by “gaining the insight of community stakeholders which may provide
suggestions which will improve our current outstanding elementary education.”

District residents will have a final
opportunity on Oct. 17 to offer comments regarding elementary school building
utilization to the UCF school board.
The school board will then vote to determine if an elementary school
building utilization study will be a 2011–2012 school year goal. The meeting will be held at Pocopson
Elementary School at 7:30 p.m.

The district Web page Finance Committee
Meeting documents include a draft of Finance Committee2011 – 2102 school year
goals outline which lists elementary school building utilization as an
objective. This draft document can be found at

http://www.ucfsd.org/~boarddocs/FOV1-00037F8F/FAV1-00037F82/FOV1-000443D5/08%20-%202011-2012%20DRAFT%20Finance%20Goals%202011-10-10.pdf?FCItemID=S0373A13E&Plugin=Loft

School Superintendent John Sanville
agreed to post his introductory view of the proposed elementary school
utilization study on the site in the near future. He said the earliest
implementation of any major change in elementary school buildings would be the
2013–2014 school year, but if the board votes to include investigation of
elementary school buildings as a 2011–2012 year goal, all community stakeholders
will be represented in the study.

Sanville added the scope of a report to
the school board would include at a minimum the impact on:
1. Curriculum and Instruction
2. Social-emotional impact on students
3. Parent impact
4. Budgetary effects
5. Transportation.

About Jim Phreaner

After 41 years of auditing large NYSE global corporations, former IRS Agent Jim Phreaner was looking for a project in retirement with fewer regulations and more people. He joined the staff at Chadds Ford Live more than a year ago. James Edward “Jim” Phreaner, 64, died suddenly in his Birmingham Township home on Dec.17, 2012. Jim was a devoted husband, son, father, friend, and neighbor.

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