The West Windsor-Plainsboro School District is looking into an expansion at Maurice Hawk School.
The WW-P Board of Education on March 20 authorized Ewing-based architectural firm Fraytak Veisz Hopkins Duthie to look into expanding Maurice Hawk Elementary School to accommodate additional students projected to be moving into the district.
The board action directs administration to work the firm to prepare the plans and specifications for the project.
Board vice president Michele Kaish, who also chairs the Administration and Facilities Committee, told the WWP News before the school board meeting that the district is considering its options and exploring how much Maurice Hawk can be expanded.
The school is currently at capacity and the district is predicting a need for more space within the next few years as a result of imminent residential development.
Superintendent David Aderhold gave a report to the school board at its Feb. 14 board meeting on an impending space crunch facing the district, warning that the district will likely need to hold a bond referendum for school construction at some point in the next few years.
Aderhold said that five residential projects already approved or near approval in Plainsboro and West Windsor, are projected to collectively add more than 540 students to the district by 2020.
He added that based on what happens with the development proposed by the Howard Hughes Corp. on the old Cyanamid tract in West Windsor, the district could see the addition of almost 3,000 students when all is said and done. Current enrollment stands at about 9,600.
The superintendent said that may of the projects would send the students they generate through the Maurice Hawk-Village Elementary-Grover Middle-High School South path.
Kaish said the architectural work by Fraytak Veisz Hopkins Duthie is all “very preliminary.”
“We want to get a better understanding of what is possible as far as expanding Maurice Hawk,” Kaish said, adding that the Administration and Facilities Committee has previously discussed concept plans that reviewed expansion options as well as additions that would require more time.
“We could double the current capacity, but that’s not to say that is something we would want to do,” Kaish said.
“With the tremendous pressure on those four schools, there may need to be redistricting down the line,” Kaish said. “We’re not having those conversations yet, because we don’t want to redistrict again when more development comes online.”
“More development” refers to more speculative projects further down the pipeline, such as the Howard Hughes and Transit Village sites.
Kaish added that Village, Dutch Neck, and South do not have room for significant expansion. And expansions alone would be insufficient if future development results in additional students numbering in the thousands.
“When people move here, we want our schools to be good and for class sizes to be acceptable,” Kaish said.
The board also approved policies March 20 on the student use of vehicles and use of electronic mobile devices.
Students cannot bring any motorized bicycle, skateboard, scooter, roller skates, hoverboard, or “any other motorized mode of transportation” on school grounds during the school day.
The new policy also gives high school principals the option to implement a parking permit system.
High school juniors and seniors who drive to school may be required to register their cars and affix permits to a window, though there are no plans to implement a registration system for this year.
A second policy issues guidelines on student usage of electronic mobile devices, which includes smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Students are allowed to be in possession of devices in school, but electronic devices intended solely” for gaming and entertainment purposes are not allowed.
Devices such as Chromebooks are part of the curriculum, but staff can confiscate a device when its use disrupts the educational process or violates personal privacy.
Staff can confiscate a device when a device is used in class without consent, or when there is inappropriate use during the instructional day.
A device with recording capability is prohibited in locker rooms, dressing rooms, and bathrooms. In addition, recording something that is “not a component to the learning” is not permitted during classroom instruction or any classroom assessment.
If there is reasonable suspicion that a rule has been violated, the district reserves the right to examine any student’s device.
According to Kaish, the new policies were recommendations from Strauss Esmany, the Toms River-based consultant that reviews the district’s policies.