North Allegheny delays elementary school redistricting, keeps plan for middle school - North Journal

North Allegheny delays elementary school redistricting, keeps plan for middle school

Friday, May 8, 2020 | 1:39 PM

North Allegheny is moving forward with middle school redistricting for the 2020-21 school year, but will wait a year before redistricting its seven elementary schools.

The coronavirus pandemic is playing a major role in the district’s decision, school officials said.

“Due to the pandemic, it is difficult to be sure that the addition to Franklin Elementary will be ready for the start of the 2020-2021 school year,” district officials wrote in a May 7 letter to parents.

Work at Franklin Elementary will nearly double the size of the building from its current capacity of 525 students to about 900 pupils.

The $27.5 million estimated project will include additional classrooms; a new cafeteria, kitchen and stage; more restrooms; a new entrance; reconfigured student drop-off area; new heating, cooling, plumbing and other mechanical systems; new windows and doors; and extensive interior remodeling.

“While construction has resumed, the project was initially shut down due to the school closures and the progress is now slower due to social distancing and safety efforts,” officials wrote.

The letter said construction also may be slowed if restrictions are reinstated during the summer and “it is also unclear if scheduled equipment and supply deliveries in the coming months will be delayed due to the global impact on the supply chain.”

Uncertainties about “what school may look like” when classes are scheduled to resume in the fall and how the pandemic will impact the transition to a new school if redistricting is implemented also were factors in the district’s decision to delay action.

The school board in October approved plans to redraw the boundaries for elementary and middle schools for the 2020-21 school year.

Redistricting, which will send hundreds of students to different buildings, was spurred by soaring growth and classroom overcrowding.

Since 2015, the district’s enrollment has increased by 341 students, according to a report issued by the district outlining the findings of a recent demographic study. The report anticipates that the district’s current enrollment of 8,496 students — the largest among suburban districts in Allegheny County — will swell to as much as 8,801 by 2026.