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Plum residents, school officials hear about 16 preliminary options for new facilities study

Emily Balser
| Thursday, March 17, 2016, 12:51 p.m.

Plum residents and school officials on March 16 got a first look at 16 options aimed to best use the district's buildings, where enrollment is uneven in some elementary schools.

The presentation was the first of several meetings for residents to give input on what direction they think the district should go when considering what to do, among other things, with Regency Park Elementary, built 50 years ago.

Options presented included building new schools, renovating schools, reconfiguring grade-level groupings and redistricting.

“We come to the district as outsiders and a fresh perspective,” said Dan Engen, an architect with VEBH, which is conducting the study. “Let's try not to think about how we got here. Try to think about where we want to go.”

The next public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 20 at the Oblock Junior High auditorium.

Regency Park students are temporarily housed in the old Holiday Park Elementary building after plans to build a new Regency Park school were halted last year amid budget concerns from some board members.

Several parents of Regency Park students attended the March 16 meeting, with many favoring the option of building a new school.

“I do appreciate the transparency of having this meeting tonight,” said Leigh-Anne Weiss, parent of two Regency Park students.

Weiss said she understands the new study is being done with a fresh perspective, but it's important to understand options that have already been considered and denied in the past.

“I really think we have to look at past decisions that were made,” she said.

Other parents of Regency Park students noted they have been dealing with “broken promises” for several years and just want an answer for what will happen to their neighborhood school.

Regency Park has the lowest enrollment of the four Plum elementary schools.

Cost, class size, busing impact and layout of buildings won't be determined until the final few options are decided, officials said.

The plans VEBH comes up with will use data that project enrollment for five to 10 years and allow for 10 percent growth.

“You can count on only the next five years because those students have been born,” Engen said. “Looking beyond 10 years is really difficult.”

Plum enrolls about 3,900 students, down from about 4,300 a decade ago.

Superintendent Timothy Glasspool said the architects will meet with administrators to go over the input from the meeting and eliminate some options.

“We'll be back here next month with a similar format and hopefully less options,” Glasspool said.

March 16's presentation with details on the 16 options is available on the district website under the school board tab.

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 412-871-2369 or ebalser@tribweb.com.

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