MOUNT VERNON – The potential of hundreds of families entering Mount Vernon, and thus the city schools, has increased exponentially with new housing developments arriving.

Mount Vernon Superintendent Bill Seder knows the influx is looming and has conducted multiple discussions pondering the best methods to prepare for it.

At July’s board of education meeting, Seder announced two committees focused on housing — a facility core committee and a facilities advisory committee.

The two committees largely focus on how Mount Vernon City Schools can prepare their facilities and how the community can participate in finding solutions. As of August, eight meetings have been scheduled to discuss the situation.

“(There’s) potentially 1,100 new housing units; that certainly is a cause for discussion,” Seder said. “Let’s just say all those units come to fruition. How many will be occupied by children? We don’t have a great answer for that.”

Hence the birth of the planning committees.

Seder said he heard about the array of developments “like everybody else.”

“If we get a little heads up it’s because we were attending area development foundation meetings,” Seder said. “In terms of Highland Real Estate, we heard about it like everyone else.”

The board’s reaction?

“I think it’s very positive, we all agree,” Seder said. “Mount Vernon is a great place to live, (it’s) country, but small-city feel with traditional values.

“It’s exciting from that point–what to expect next–how can we plan–it puts Mount Vernon City Schools in the best position to welcome new families to the community.”

Seder said the school’s capacity for expansion is based on the size of its buildings, including six elementary schools, and one middle and high school. 

“Some have the capacity to take more students,” he said. “Some are running near capacity. Some spaces are inadequate (with) not enough room.”

Putting students in seats depends on a variety of things, Seder said.

“You have to walk through building by building and see what our current and future needs are for the district will be.”

Seder met with the developers last week to discuss new housing specificities. Such as, will families with kids move in or professional types with dogs?

The meeting discussed how many people are expected to live in Mount Vernon and how many school children could enter the city’s school district, Area Development Foundation President Jeff Gottke said.

“The standard I always heard is a single-family home produces .8 children,” Gottke said. “And multi-family apartments are .25 children on the average. Every one to four units has a child.

“They’re all 2-3 bedrooms, at least. It doesn’t mean you’re going to get a lot of people in there. (It’s) hard to estimate how many people it might be.”

The Newark Road development, on the south side of the city, is expected to be completed in 2023, with houses ranging from $200-250K to $400K, Seder said.

The facility advisory committee will meet from September to February, Seder said, and will be represented mostly by members of the community, noting over 50% need to be non-faculty.

“We want it to be community driven.” 

The Knox Pages Education section is brought to you by Herald's Appliance in Mount Vernon.

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