Unionville Studies Pupil Grouping One Option: Four Elementary Schools, All Through Grade Five. The Other Splits The Grades.

Posted: November 20, 1997

UNIONVILLE — Grade structures for the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District's 1,600 elementary school children will change next year if the school board accepts recommendations to build a fourth elementary school to accommodate the burgeoning student population.

A committee studying student growth, which will make a recommendation to the school board next month, will meet at 7:30 tonight at Unionville High School.

The committee favors either making all four elementary schools kindergarten through fifth grade, or having two for up through grade two and two for grades three through five.

Currently, there are two schools covering kindergarten through third grade and one for grades four and five.

Many parents with several children have tended to favor keeping all grades in one school building so they do not have to juggle two sets of meetings, administrators and locations. This also allows siblings to stay in the same school.

However, committee members say breaking up grades allows them to specialize services, keep costs down, and avoid dividing resources. Since fifth graders have different needs from those of kindergartners, those needs would be met at two schools rather than all four.

The committee of parents, board members and residents was formed to study how to handle increased student enrollment. It meets weekly to study issues ranging from class size to construction to transportation and sewage.

Still at issue is the location of the new school, critical to parents in the sprawling district who do not want long bus rides for their children.

The committee has distributed 6,500 surveys to district residents asking them to list their six most important concerns over a new school, including transportation, cost and class size.

Unionville-Chadds Ford, which has grown 33 percent to 3,400 students in the last 10 years, has been the third-fastest-growing district in Chester County in the last decade.

The focus is on the elementary schools because the middle school is undergoing extensive construction and the high school can expand into the district offices, board members have said.

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