One final round of environmental testing is the last hurdle before the Hatboro-Horsham School District can assume ownership of federal government land on Route 611.
The likely home of Hallowell Elementary School, currently the shuttered Horsham Memorial Army Reserve Center, is undergoing environmental testing slated for completion in February 2013, according to Bob Reichert, the district’s director of business affairs. The district hired a firm to conduct similar tests in the spring, which concluded that the property did not warrant soil or groundwater remediation.
Reichert said the land – which will be granted to the school district for free provided it’s used to house a new school – will be deeded to Hatboro-Horsham in May or June 2013.
“We’re not in a position that we need the land transfer in an expeditious fashion,” Reichert told the Hatboro-Horsham School Board during Monday’s work session.
The district plans to demolish the existing structure and build a new home for the 51-year-old Hallowell Elementary School. As far as timeframe, Reichert said the government requires that the district make “significant progress” within the first year the land is transferred. The process should complete within three years of ownership, he said.
Superintendent Curtis Griffin said he expects consultant Design Insite to have completed demographics information within the next two to three months. By January, Griffin said the board can begin to work through the details and determine how many students would be attending the school.
“The state will only reimburse you for live bodies,” Griffin said. “We can project 1,000 homes on the base, it doesn’t matter to them … unless there’s a student living in that home right now, that student will not count.”
Monica Taylor’s the district’s assistant superintendent for elementary schools, shared some highlights of features the district would like to incorporate into the new school, including making the school more technology friendly; allowing for both internal and external space designated for physical education; and setting aside space specifically designed for creative arts such as music and art rooms.
Currently, Taylor said indoor gym activities typically occur in the cafeteria, which doubles as multi-purpose space and creative arts tend to be taught in spaces that happen to be vacant at that time.
Taylor also suggested having ample storage to safely secure any furniture not in use; ensuring that the building is handicap accessible; and providing safe and easy access to the facility, particularly during school drop-off and pick-up times.
Griffin said the specifics would need to be worked through during the next year or year and a half. He said the board would form an oversight committee for the building project as it moves forward.
“At the end of the day there is a dollar ceiling that you have to address,” Griffin said. “We have to be conscious of what the costs are. This is just the starting point.”