Centennial School Board Directors , presenting information regarding the sale of Stackpole Elementary School and an update on the construction of the new Davis Elementary School building.
Sale of Stackpole
Miller began his presentation to the supervisors by saying the decision was made to sell because the district “did not have a choice.”
Miller said under an act of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, charter schools have the right to take occupancy of any school buildings left vacant by a district, free of charge.
Miller said this recently took place in Bensalem, where two different charter schools approached the district regarding vacant properties.
He said more than 500 students were drawn out of the district to charter schools, and $9 million in state funding followed them.
"We already have enough burdens on our budget," he said. “We can’t afford something like that.”
Miller said the district put several of the district’s properties out for two rounds of bidding. Ultimately the from County Builders, Inc.
Miller said it was his belief, based on documents presented by the school board’s finance committee prior to the sale, that the Warminster-based developer would be building approximately 30 single-family homes, each on a half-acre lot of land.
“If you look at it relative to what the , I think we made a great deal,” he said.
Supervisor Walter Stevens questioned why the township was never notified that Stackpole was up for sale.
“You’re not required to do anything,” said Stevens. “But common sense would have said ‘We are putting this school up for bid, are you people interested?’”
Supervisor Marguerite Genesio agreed with Stevens, saying, “we might have been able to get a better tax base [out of it] for the township.”
Miller said the board expects the sale to be finalized by August.
Davis Elementary School Update
Miller told the board is "under budget and on time." He said the district would like to start moving items into the building July 15.
He said the board was a little concerned because they have been told that the township may not grant a temporary certificate of occupancy.
According to Miller, this is customary practice in these types of situations.
He said, "the board is hoping for continued cooperation from the township and to be able to set the building up before the students are set to begin classes."
Nonetheless, Miller said the would be coming down next week, and the new Davis school building would be ready to welcome 890 students come September 1.
Judi Braunston, of Nancy Drive, said with the increased number of students at the location she could not fathom how there will not be a problem with traffic on Maple Avenue.
“I remember what the old Davis was like,” she said. “The cars just sit in the parking and wait to pick up their kids. I cannot imagine what is going to happen when you add 13 school buses into the mix.”
Township Planning Commission Member Franz Kautz, who was in the audience at the meeting, reminded Miller of the
Miller assured those present not to worry, as the board “has a back-up plan, and a back-up plan for the back-up plan.”
He said the district has discussed several scenarios, such as staggering pickup times as well as rearranging the way the busses come in as well as the times that the busses come in.
Miller said what the district hopes to is to preempt any problems by educating the community. He said the district has arranged to have a board representative present during the , armed with diagrams of the school and other information.
“We will talk to parents on how to approach the school, how to drop off and pick up their children and what the bus routes will be,” he said.
However, School Board Director David Shafter asked the board and the members of the public for a reasonable grace period.
“We all know the first day at a brand new school is going to be chaos for everyone,” he said. “But give us two weeks. If we still see problems, we will take care of it.”
Kautz quipped that he still predicted to see “mayhem on Maple Avenue,” but said he realized the building needed to be occupied before the district could iron out any kinks.
Miller assured the board and those who had gathered for the meeting that the safety of the students was the district’s number one priority.
He said the board plans to meet with the township’s office of licenses and inspection in the upcoming weeks, to discuss the facilitation of the building transition process.