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Derry Township School District

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a project timeline for a renovation vs new build?

We're in the preliminary stages of planning for both renovation and new construction options. The estimated timeline for either path is around two years, and the work will be completed in phases. While we haven't fully finalized our plans, a key aspect we're actively addressing is how to manage student classrooms and movement around the school during construction and demolition phases. This will be a critical part of our planning process moving forward.

Will the students stay on site during demolition and construction of this project?

We haven't finalized the specifics on whether students will remain on-site during the construction period. However, we are committed to keeping the community informed. As we develop our plans, we will continue to hold community meetings and present at Board Meetings to share updates and gather input. The safety and well-being of our students will be a top priority in our decision-making process.

What are the design standards that have changed in the last 20 years?

Over the last 20 years, design standards for educational facilities have evolved significantly, especially in two key areas:

  1. Safety and Security: The focus has shifted towards layered security measures and improved supervision of students. Academic spaces are now designed to be more remote from the main entrance, further enhancing the safety measures in place.

  2. Student-Centric Learning Environments: Traditional "sit and get" instructional spaces are giving way to more dynamic, student-centered designs. This includes the use of flexible furniture and the incorporation of breakout spaces to facilitate collaborative learning and engagement.

These changes reflect a more holistic approach to school design, emphasizing both the safety and educational needs of students.

What is the general cost per square foot for demolition and construction?

The general cost for demolition and construction varies based on the complexity of the scope of work and construction type. The cost analysis in the presentation compared renovations and additions of the existing ES to new construction of similar square footage. The proposed costs are not intended to be a design solution but an analysis to determine the cost effectiveness to renovate or replace the elementary school. The cost per square feet of renovation ranges from $175-$195 per SF and building additions at $350-$375 plus construction cost escalation and contingency of approximately 13%.  The cost for all new construction ranges from $275-$290 per SF and building demolition at $6 per SF with construction cost escalation and contingency of approximately 13%. The estimates are based on our experience of projects with similar size and scope in Pennsylvania, which serve as a benchmark for judging costs in our planning process.

 It was noted in CRA’s cost analysis and the cost estimates of the two previous studies, conducted by other Architectural firms, that renovation plus additions of the existing elementary are approximately 80% of new construction cost estimates. The PA Department of Education recommends to highly consider building replacement when the 80% threshold is reached.  

What consultations will be used to address noises and other disruptions to students such as humming of lights or loud toilet flushers?

To address concerns related to noise and other disruptions like the humming of lights or loud toilet flushers, we have a multi-faceted approach:

  1. We work with specialized consultants in plumbing, electrical, and HVAC who have expertise in K-12 building design. This ensures that the systems installed are well-suited for a school environment.

  2. We continually seek feedback from previous builds to identify areas for improvement, helping us to make more informed decisions for current and future projects.

  3. We're exploring options like low-flow toilets and manual flush mechanisms to mitigate the noise generated by plumbing systems.

  4. Additionally, for specific areas where noise could be a concern, we would bring in an acoustical consultant to provide expert recommendations.

By utilizing these resources and methods, we aim to minimize disruptions and create a conducive learning environment for our students.

Was the cost presented tonight for the design in the same presentation?


Why would a PIAA-regulation gym be needed in an elementary school?

‚Äč‚ÄčThere are several compelling reasons to consider including a PIAA-regulation gym in an elementary school:

  1. Our elementary school often serves as a host location for district-wide student events, making a gymnasium that meets PIAA standards a valuable asset for accommodating a larger number of attendees.

  2. The enhanced gym space would also be available for rental for community events and youth organizations, serving as a multi-purpose facility for the wider community.

  3. Beyond its traditional use for physical education classes, a larger gym with greater seating capacity offers flexibility for various activities and functions, such as assemblies, thereby maximizing the utility of the space.

Incorporating a PIAA-regulation gym would not only benefit our elementary school students but also provide broader advantages for our district and community.

Would a new building with a central gymnasium and MPR cut down on travel time for students?

The benefits of having a central gymnasium and Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) along with constructing a multi-story building is that it could further optimize travel time and space utilization. With a vertical design, students can more quickly navigate between classrooms and key facilities like the gym and MPR, which would be centrally located. This setup reduces the overall footprint of the building, making it more efficient. Moreover, a multi-story structure allows for better zoning of educational spaces, potentially grouping age-appropriate classrooms and facilities together on the same floor for added convenience and safety. Having these key facilities centrally located means students would spend less time walking to and from various activities, whether it's physical education classes, assemblies, or special events. This efficient design would allow for smoother transitions between activities and optimize the use of instructional time.

Are you going to have security experts consult on this project?

Yes, security is a top priority for us in this project, and we have multiple avenues to ensure it's adequately addressed:

  1. Crabtree, Rorhbaugh and Associates has certified experts on staff to guide us on best practices for safety and security. These certifications are provided by law enforcement agencies and emphasize security through environmental design.

  2. We have the option to engage a third-party consultant to conduct a comprehensive security assessment, providing an additional layer of expertise. (This is work that the district has engaged in previously and is seeking to update in the near future).

  3. We will also collaborate with our Director of Safe and Supportive Schools as well as local law enforcement agencies to integrate their insights into our planning.

  4. Beyond consultations, we'll be implementing design principles specifically aimed at enhancing safety and security throughout school facilities.

By taking these steps, we aim to create an environment that is not only conducive to learning but also ensures the well-being of our students, staff, and visitors.

Why did the cost per square foot change from High School quoted 7 years ago to today’s cost?

The change in cost per square foot from the High School project quoted seven years ago to today's cost can be attributed to a variety of factors. In general, construction costs have been subject to market forces, inflation, and other variables that can result in changes over time. It's essential to understand that each project has its own set of circumstances and requirements, making direct cost comparisons challenging.

We did choose to work with CRA for this project, a firm known for delivering the most cost-effective designs per square foot in the state. Their reputation for economical yet quality builds was a key factor in their selection.

Are special education rooms different from General education classrooms?
It depends. Special education rooms are generally designed to be different from general education classrooms, although the extent of the differences depends on various factors.

  1. Faculty Input: We plan to consult with faculty members, particularly those who specialize in special education, to better understand their specific needs and teaching methods. Their insights will be invaluable in tailoring the room designs to better serve students with special needs.

  2. Types of Needs: The actual differences in the room layouts and amenities will depend on the types of needs that are most commonly encountered among the students using them. This could mean specialized furniture, sensory-friendly materials, and adaptive technologies, among other features.

The goal is to create a conducive learning environment that addresses the unique needs of special education students, while also providing a space that can be adaptable to various teaching methods and learning styles.