School Consolidation Update - September 22, 2015

Dr. David Zerbe, Superintendent of Schools, would like to invite the community to attend public presentations by potential vendors that can assist the district in conducting a second enrollment projection and, if needed, use the enrollment projections and initial related data to assist the district with re-drawing of boundary lines.

While no questions or comments will be taken during the presentations, the Superintendent welcomes comments or suggestions via email at information@methacton.org up until 12 p.m. on Monday, October 5 for consideration in selecting a final vendor.

Vendor Public Presentations
Thursday, October 1, 2015
6:30-8 p.m.
MHS LGI
1005 Kriebel Mill Road, Eagleville, PA


Capacity Questions Update - Mr. Thompson reported his responses to the capacity questions prepared by the Enrollment/Capacity/Education Committee during their September meeting. The full report of these questions and answers can be downloaded here.

School Consolidation Update - September 10, 2015
Please be advised that a meeting of the Consolidation Committee has been scheduled for September 23, 2015. During this meeting, the committee will hear responses to capacity questions prepared by the Enrollment/Capacity/Education Committee from Thompson Associates. Thompson will deliver his responses to the full consolidation committee so that clarity can be achieved prior to releasing such questions and responses to the public.

The Redrawing of Attendance Areas committee completed their review of the vendor presentation scoring. Please know that there were four vendors that presented to a collective group of 19 school consolidation committee members. Each member scored vendors and scores were totaled. The lowest scoring vendor will not be asked to present again in the future to the School Board or public. The committee recommended that the remaining three vendors present in public. These presentations will take place on Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. in the MHS LGI. At this time, school board members and well as concerned citizens can hear the presentations. Once these presentations conclude, the Superintendent will make a recommendation to the Board of School Directors to contract with one of the three vendors for phase one of a two phase project. The first phase will be about conducting an enrollment projection that can be used to compare to our existing PEL projections and the second phase, if needed, will be to use the enrollment projections and initial related data to assist the district with re-drawing of boundary lines.


August 25, 2015

This memo shall serve as a follow-up to the August 10, 2015 notice to the public.

The School Consolidation Committee held meetings on August 19 and August 24, 2015 in order to hear presentations from four selected vendors resulting from the RFP application reviews held on August 6, 2015. We heard presentations from:

  • Sundance Associates, Cherry Hill, NJ
  • Citygate GIS LLC, Annapolis, MD
  • Decision Insite, Irvine, CA
  • Milone & MacBroom, Inc., Cheshire, CT

Each vendor was provided equal time to present their offerings and responses to a preliminary listing of questions from the committee (questions can be found here). The Re-Drawing of Attendance Areas Committee will then review all responses, including any follow-up questions and will assist the superintendent in identifying no less than two vendors to bring before the Board in a public setting. Once the vendors are selected for the public presentation, a Special Meeting of the Board of School Directors will be scheduled. The Board will then be provided with information to consider prior to rendering a decision to select a vendor to assist the district.

It should be noted that the RFP was deliberate in seeking two important services that will be broken into project phases for the work of the committee. 

The first phase will have the selected vendor complete enrollment projections by building and by grade. These enrollment projections can then be used for two purposes; one to provide the Board and Administration with a second enrollment projection that can be compared to the first projection done by the Pennsylvania Economy League; and two, if the review of this comparison reveals parallel findings, the data will be reviewed for use as the basis for the second phase of the committee’s information gathering needs.  

The second phase of the RFP will have the selected vendor utilize the enrollment data as part of a process to prepare recommendations on re-drawing of attendance areas, if deemed necessary.  However, a great deal of continued discussion and data collection is necessary before a recommendation can be made. This includes additional data from Thompson Associates on the capacity questions, planned for presentation to the committee in the near future.


August 10 School Consolidation Update

 
Since my last update on the school consolidation, the public witnessed the work of the Enrollment/Capacity/Education committee in a special meeting on June 23, 2015. In addition to this meeting, much work has been progressing with the committees. This communication will update the public on our progress to date.

 

The June 23, 2015 special meeting of the Board of School Directors was for the purpose of providing the public with information on enrollment projections. The agenda that evening included a brief update on the history of the consolidation process as well as a summary of the committee work to date. The bulk of the meeting was allocated to the Pennsylvania Economy League, who provided responses to the 41 questions raised as a result of the committees work. The presentation for that evening can be found here while the specific responses to questions are located here. The agenda for that evening did not include any action items and as such it affirmed that the committee process will continue as currently planned. Lastly, there were 18 courtesy of the floor speakers.

 

In July, the Chairpersons for the Enrollment/Capacity/Education committee began addressing capacity concerns in process similar to that which they used to address enrollment concerns. The committee was tasked with reviewing capacity concerns raised during the hearings before the Board of School Directors as well as questions that were collected from the public via email submissions. These questions were distributed to the Enrollment/Capacity/Education Committee and additional questions were submitted by members themselves. All questions were then combined into a final document and sent to the Superintendent on August 6, 2015. The Superintendent sent the questions to Mr. James Thompson of Thompson Associates Inc. (the firm that completed original capacity report) for responses and subsequent presentations. We are awaiting a response from Thompson in order that we may provide a clearer picture of our steps and timeline going forward.


The Re-Drawing of Attendance Areas committee has been hard at work as well. They helped prepare an RFP (Request for Proposal) that was sent to vendors on June 18, 2015 to solicit proposals by July 16, 2015. The RFP can be found here. On August 6, 2015, the Re-Drawing of Attendance Areas committee met to review and score each of the 5 proposals received. Committee members scored and have asked that 4 of the 5 vendors present their proposals to the full 27 member Consolidation Committee. These presentations will also be scored and a final vendor recommendation to the Superintendent will occur. The presentations dates are partially scheduled as of this writing.


Looking to the future, the committee work will likely result in a public presentation in early September 2015 on capacity in response to the questions from the committee. Likewise, following that presentation, there will likely be a need to determine what other information is outstanding, and when and if a consultant shall be engaged to begin looking at the redrawing of attendance areas. 


Meeting Notes from May 28, 2015 - Methacton School Consolidation Committee
 
A School Consolidation Committee meeting was held on May 28, 2015 from 6:30 to 9:15 p.m. There were 20 members in attendance. Dr. Zerbe briefly reviewed for the members in attendance the work completed at the last meeting and following that meeting, up to and including the current date.

It was noted that the Enrollment/Capacity/Education committee completed their assigned work by submitting several pages of questions to the Pennsylvania Economy League for response. It was further noted that the Re-drawing of Attendance Areas committee completed work on the RFP for vendor solicitation to assist the district with this process if needed.

 

The Pennsylvania Economy League responded to the listing of questions verbally. While there was general agreement that the PEL responses were appropriate and understandable, there was discussion regarding some fundamental issues. The predominant concern was centered on the public impression of the enrollment figures that were produced to substantiate the previous Skyview construction, and how different the PEL projections are trending. The fact that no one involved in those calculations are part of the current projections was discussed, in addition to the fact that PEL, being an independent non-profit organization, has no say or interest in what the district chooses to do with regard to the potential closure of a building. It was further discussed that while members of the committee are reasonably comfortable with the margin of error in the first 5 years of the projections, there is a request for additional information on accuracy in years 6-10, as the questions below will indicate.

 

The consolidation committee had the following questions for PEL as a result of the meeting: 
  1. Why did PEL utilize 2 years as a basis when calculating their projections as compared to 3 or 4 or 5 years?

  2. Does there exist a pattern of non-public enrollment that may be impacting the projections?

  3. Could the use of certificates of occupancy in 2010 versus the use of construction permits from 2010 make an impact in PEL calculations?

  4. Can PEL provide additional accuracy results from other similar projects for years 6-10? 

Lastly, it was decided that June 23, 2015 will be the public presentation by PEL. Angela Linch will be sending a notice with details through all available communication channels to inform the public. If possible, Dr. Zerbe will provide the responses to the additional 4 questions listed above to the Consolidation Committee in advance of the June 23 meeting.


Meeting Notes from April 22, 2015 - Methacton School Consolidation Committee

The first meeting of the Consolidation Committee was held last evening, April 22, 2015. The meeting agenda is located here. Members of the committee were led through the agenda topics with significant time being attributed to the summary of issue and the committee profiles and purpose. Members were provided an opportunity to introduce themselves and share their interest with regards to their voluntary service on this committee.

The Enrollment, Capacity, and Education committee chairpersons distributed a list of questions on Friday April 17, 2015 to their committee members. The list of questions were from the two school consolidation hearings and any additional questions submitted in writing to the district. The charge was to review the list and prepare any additional questions regarding the enrollment projection study. The Enrollment, Capacity, and Education committee then began work towards a finalized list of questions which will be distributed to the Pennsylvania Economy League (PEL) seeking response in writing and via a formal presentation. The finalized list is planned for completion by Friday May 1, 2015.

The next step will be to schedule a meeting whereby the entire Consolidation Committee can hear the PEL presentation and ask any follow-up questions. This will likely occur in mid May 2015. Once completed, a date in late May or early June will be scheduled to provide such information and presentation by PEL to the public and the Board of School Directors.

The purpose of these actions are to establish a baseline of information necessary to make future decisions. As such, the basis for any potential school closing is predicated on the facts of the past 7 years of enrollment decline combined with the need for a sound projection of future enrollment. We anticipate completing the baseline information process no later than the end of June 2015.

The Redrawing of Attendance Areas Committee met to begin work on a Request for Proposal (RFP) draft seeking a vendor to lead and assist the district in the instance that elementary boundary line redrawing is deemed necessary. The work on the RFP will continue over the next week or so until such time it is ready to be shared with the entire Consolidation Committee for review. The work of this committee must coincide with the establishment of the baseline information from the Enrollment, Capacity, and Education committee. In the event that we affirm a position on the baseline information, we will be prepared to move forward at a pace consistent with our established timeline to bring information before the Superintendent by November 15, 2015.

The Finance Committee and the Student and Staff Transition Committees did not meet following the Consolidation Committee meeting. Their work is likely to begin in June once the baseline information is established. Members of these committees will participate in meetings of the Consolidation Committee in May to hear any information prior to its presentation to the public.

This ends the notes--

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