Cumberland Valley School District considers opening a ninth-grade academy

Carlisle/West Shore

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Cumberland Valley School District officials are considering transforming the former Good Hope Middle School into a ninth-grade academy.

“We currently have an empty building,” superintendent Dr. David Christopher said.

Christopher says the district isn’t sure if this would be a short or long-term solution. He says that for now, it looks like the best option.

“We think we can renovate that building, probably depending on what we do, somewhere between $6 and $15 million. To build a building on this campus is likely $30 million,” he said.

Cumberland Valley is the fastest growing district in Pennsylvania.

“When we look at the demographic report we had done in October by DecisionInsite, it really shows that our biggest challenge in the next five years is the high school,” Christopher said.

Christopher says the high school currently has about 2,800 students and is projected to have 3,300 students in about two school years.

“An opportunity here for us to do something really special in terms of really building social, emotional skills, really building career development,” he said.

Ninth and tenth grade is also the time when students are most likely to switch to cyber charter schools, which cost the district more.

Christopher is hopeful the extra attention on ninth-graders would slow down that trend and make them feel comfortable with the transition to high school.

The soonest any of this would happen is the 2021-2022 school year, since the changes would have to be approved by the board.

Right now, school officials are working out the details, like making sure transportation and after-school activities don’t get interrupted.

“I think what we’re finding is we can probably address most of those issues,” Christopher said.

School officials hope to make a decision in the next few months.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for March 2.

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