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Mars school board discusses student population study

ADAMS TWP — Mars Area School District’s board is discussing conducting an updated population study that could help inform designs for the district’s planned elementary school expansion.

The $19,500 contract with Davis Demographics would pay for a yearlong study that would run concurrent with the architect designs, superintendent Mark Gross told board directors at a meeting Tuesday, May 14. The data would help predict student growth and population, which could assist with construction plans.

The district’s last demographic study for the Mars Area Elementary School was in 2017.

“We’ve heard stories about other school districts that have opened brand new schools and already have to make concessions because they’re not large enough,” board director Daniel Long said. “I don’t want to get in the position where, using nine-year-old data, we’re not doing exactly what we need to support our needs.”

“There’s no adding on after this (project is done),” said board member Jennifer DiCuccio. “We really have one shot at the elementary building to make this right.”

Board directors Anthony De Pretis and DiCuccio, as well as Long, said the information would be relevant to future construction and renovation projects at Mars Area Centennial School and the Mars Area Primary Center.

“ (Renovation) is more than just one building, right?” De Pretis said. “This is part of a much bigger plan.”

Board member Sallie Wick told board members that, regarding elementary school expansion, population projections and metrics had been taken into consideration by Jon Thomas of consulting group Thomas and Williams at the board’s request.

The population study would be funded through capital funds, board members said.

The school board will resume discussion on the subject next month.

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