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Planning Commission OKs site plan for new school

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The city’s Planning Commission has approved the preliminary and final site plan for the new Germantown Municipal School District elementary school and district office building on nearly 39 acres on 3366 Forest Hill-Irene Road.

On Oct. 6, the school district closed on the purchase of the property.

The project will consist of an approximately 110,000-square-foot public elementary school building and a 16,000-square foot central office, with 194 parking spaces located east of proposed structures. The central office will be completed in phase two of the project.

The entire school project, including the parking lots, will be located on the western portion of the site. The eastern portion of the site will not be developed as part of this project, and could potentially be used for future public projects.

Construction of the new school is proposed to begin in spring of 2018.

Superintendent Jason Manuel said the city averages 1.3 students per household. He noted that around 1,400 new residences are planned in upcoming years.

“These new residences will bring an estimated 200 new elementary students and 100 new middle school students,” he said. “We’re building the biggest school we can with the money we have. We’ve done our best to plan for the current growth.”

A Technical Advisory Committee was assembled last month to offer input into the plan. Members from each of the city’s major departments were able to review the project and give suggestions.

Initial engineering reports from staff indicate that there are concerns with having one drop-off area for students.

Manuel said the school will not include a fifth grade initially and added that this would reduce traffic levels.

Earlier this month, Parks and Recreation Department staff questioned if the school’s playground and park area would be open to the public like Germantown’s other elementary schools. However, staff reports show that the outdoor areas are intended strictly for the school and that public parking will not be added next to the school.

The Germantown Police Department stated that if the area is not open to the public then it needs to be fenced off with signage.

Both Parks and Recreation staff and the GPD commented that the outdoor basketball court should be considered for removal.

“The basketball court is problematic,” GPD reported. “Consider removing, even if it is intended for school use only. The basketball court at Farmington Elementary is a continual after-hours problem for the police and the elementary school is considering removing it.”

However, project applicant stated that the basketball court will remain and added that locks will be placed on the goals when school is not in session.

The proposed school, which is a $27 million capital improvement project, is scheduled to eventually serve kindergarten through fifth grade.

Improvements to Forest Hill-Irene Road are also scheduled to begin next fall and will take between 12-18 months.