UHES Feasibility Study:
The nine members of the Downingtown Area School District Board of Directors held a Committee of the Whole session on December 5, 2016 to begin the process of determining the future of Uwchlan Hills Elementary School. The Board heard from architects representing the firm Breslin Ridyard Fidaro who presented 5 options for dealing with the multiple aging issues plaguing the 43-year-old school. Uwchlan Hills Elementary School is located at 50 Peck Rd. in Uwchlan Township.
Although considered by Breslin to be in "good" overall condition, the school has several ADA issues that affect students and staff with disabilities. The current configuration of the school has 3 separate floor elevations with no ramp or elevator. There are steps between the main building and the temporary classrooms and there are no accessible toilet facilities. In addition to these ADA issues, there is a lack of storage, no fire sprinkler system, an out-of-code main electrical service, 43-year-old energy wasting windows and end of life kitchen and mechanical equipment.
Uwchlan Hills Elementary is also the only school within the Downingtown Area School District that was built using the pod or cluster structure that was popular in the 1970’s. Throughout the building, these large pods currently house four separate classrooms. With close to 100 students and four teachers sharing a single space, administrators and teachers had difficulties finding small group instruction space and quiet corners for individual lessons and technology integration.
Faced with these and other issues, the Board approved a Feasibility Study earlier in the year and hired Breslin Architects to begin the conversation on Uwchlan Hill’s future. The Uwchlan Hill’s community was specifically invited to the public meeting to hear the options along with the Board.
The five options are as follows:
Option 1 – Interior and Site work per Capital Improvement Plan – this is not a complete renovation. This option is projected to cost $17,836,000, would take approximately 24 months for completion and continues to require temporary classrooms post construction.
Option 2 – This option would eliminate Uwchlan Hills and distribute students to the other 9 district elementary schools. The projected cost would be $2,200,000.
Option 3 – Renovate existing classrooms and add a new Multi-Purpose Room and a 3 – story Classroom Wing. The projected cost would be $27.3 million and would take 27 months to complete.
Option 4 – Retain only the existing Multi-Purpose Room, demolish classrooms and add new 2 – story Classroom Wing, core facilities and Administrations. This is the costliest option at $35.6 million. This plan would take 25 months to complete.
Option 5 – Construct a new Uwchlan Hills school to the rear of the original building and demolish the existing building. This cost would be $32.7 million and take 21 months.
The approximately 540 students would remain in the Uwchlan Hills school throughout construction should the Board elect Options 1, 3, 4 or 5. Construction would take place in phases to curtail as much disruption as possible.
Board president Colleen Cranney thanked the Breslin architects for their presentation. She advised the audience that the Board’s primary focus right now was on selecting a new superintendent so there would be no movement on any option for the foreseeable future. She asked that all documents be placed on the district’s website for public review.
You may also click on the video below to watch the presentation at the Committee of the Whole Meeting from 2/1/2017.