Phoenixville council OKs Kindergarten Center temporary classrooms

PHOENIXVILLE — Following some misgivings about traffic in the area, borough council gave final approval to the Phoenixville Area School District for eight temporary modular classrooms at the Kindergarten Center on School Lane.

Councilman Rich Kirkner said Tuesday he was afraid the borough should have more control over dictating what traffic might be allowable under the plan for the effective expansion of the school.

“I’m trying to get some teeth here that we don’t open up that neighborhood to more traffic than it can handle,” Kirkner said.

Glen Harris, the consulting engineer working with the school district on the project, said there were discussions at the borough’s planning commission on the traffic implications.

“It was explained by the school district that although there will be some increase in the students coming to the school, there is a difference in timing of everything that is happening at the school,” Harris said. “It stretches the timing out (for traffic flow) over a longer period of time.”

The planning commission recommended approval by a vote of 4-0.

Because the school district has both morning and afternoon programs and will begin offering one for full-day students, parents and buses will be spread out so the full-complement of students won’t be coming in and leaving at the exact same time, according to Ron Miller, the district’s director of operations, who also attended the meeting.

Phoenixville Area School District needs the classrooms because, according to a presentation at a February school board meeting, enrollment at the Kindergarten Center has the building over capacity by almost 100 students.

As such, temporary classrooms at the site are necessary until the district can remedy the issue permanently, possibly through the construction of en early learning center in East Pikeland, which seems to be the favorite course of action currently.

Borough Solicitor Andrew Rau suggested including a condition in the approval which would hold the district to keeping traffic within the traffic narrative included in the plan.

When council voted in favor of final approval, 6-1, with Gautreau opposing and Karl Bucus absent, Rau’s suggestion was included.

Even with the new modular classrooms and an extended care program after school, Miller assured council that there would be few changes to the traffic around the school.

“Buses will continue to come in and leave as they are,” he said.

Gautreau shared concern about the modular classrooms being around for too long, citing a past experience at Holy Family School in the borough.

With a tight time frame leading to the 2013-14 school year, if council had waited or declined approval, the district might have had some issues.

“It was very important that they were approved,” Superintendent Alan Fegley said Thursday. “If it had been an additional month, it would have been impossible to be ready.”

With the plan given the go-ahead, Fegley said he was grateful.

“I’d like to thank them for approving it and appreciate their assistance in working on it,” he said.

Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.