Cumberland Valley School District moves to build new schools

HAMPDEN TWP., Pa. - The Cumberland Valley School District will proceed with plans to build a new elementary school and middle school.

The school board has acquired the land it needs for the construction of these schools that would open in 2018 but still has to work out how students will get to those schools.

The Cumberland Valley School District has seen tremendous growth in the last few years, from around 8,000 students in the fall of 2014 to almost 9,000 students now, but it says it is reaching the point of overcrowding.

"We have spent an awful lot of time converting any additional space that we have into usable classroom space to the point that we probably have done just about everything internally that we can do," district superintendent Frederick Withum said.

The district is moving forward with plans to build Winding Creek Elementary School and Mountain View Middle School near Lambs Gap Road in Hampden Township.

The hang up with the township and PennDOT is over road improvements and who will pay for them.

There are three intersections on Lambs Gap Road that need improvements.

The district and township are in agreement on two of those, one on Lambs Gap Road and Bali Hai Road, and the other on Lambs Gap and Creekview Road. The one still outstanding is the intersection  on Lambs Gap Road, Brandywine Road and Locust Lane.

"Well, the worst case scenario is that the project is delayed, and the time we really used in the process of trying to gain all the permits is all the extra time we have built into the schedule," Withum said.

The plan is to open the elementary school by August 2018, which will coincide with re-districting at the elementary school level.

"It becomes very difficult to pull them out once the school year begins and re-assign them to a new school," Withum said. "It creates tremendous amounts of educational disruption, which is what we're trying to avoid ultimately."

The new middle school would open in December 2018 and replace Good Hope Middle School, making that transition somewhat easier.
But any impasse over the road improvements could have a dire impact.

"Every dollar that we spend on road improvements does not get spent on the building, or does not get spent on the program, or does not get spent on teachers that we're putting into the building, so we're really trying to be the best stewards of the money that we have available," Withum said.

The school district is hoping they will come to an agreement that Hampden Township would approve next week.