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Hopewell Area School District leaders weigh options on handling reduction in students

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The Hopewell Area School District is weighing how to handle a 34% reduction in students since 2000.

Tuesday night, consultants presented a variety of options to the school board.

“There’s a lot of options on the table, easily more than five that are realistic,” said Dan Engen, a consultant with DRAW Collective who has been working with the district to put together a new facilities master plan.

The district wants to consolidate its three elementary schools, one junior high, and one high school into two or three total buildings.

“If you kept the same number of buildings and the enrollment slowly over time is decreasing, you end up with tons of extra space,” Engen explained.

There are several consolidation options on the table ranging between $90 and $164 million.

Most call for a district-wide K-6 elementary school as well as a combined 7-12th grade junior-senior high school.

All call for renovations.

Some call for a new high school or a new elementary school building.

“Ultimately, the cost of any renovation project is going to come down to I think honestly what the district can afford and then what rises to the top as priorities,” Engen said.

To gauge those priorities, the district has been gathering input from the community as well as district educators and staff.

“They want an open process. They want to be transparent. They want to share. They want to get peoples’ input and their feelings. Ultimately, they have to make the decisions, but they really want to have that input,” Engen said.

Consultants expect to make a recommendation to the school board for the best option next month.

There will be another community meeting to gather input on Saturday at noon.

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