Boyertown School District Act 34 hearing informs community

The required Act 34 hearing was held by the Boyertown School district in the Multi-purpose room of Colebrookedale elementary on Tuesday, April 9.

Jeffery Sultanik, Esquire, began the evening by descriving what exactly the hearing is and how it will work.

“The Pennsylvania Legislature has created a detailed regulatory procedure that if a school district wants to get reimbursement from the state, it needs to follow this procedure of providing the public a full and fair opportunity to share their comments about the proposed project.”

Th hearing is required by state law to move forward with any school project that adds at least 20% more to the building’s capacity.

The approved maximum cost for the Boyertown Senior High project stands at $55 million and maximum cost of the new construction portion of the project will be $24,153,200.

Acting Superintendent Robert Scoboria spoke of the study conducted by the Board of Education which was commissioned to the schools and facilities in response to a projected growth in student population.

“The receipt of the information in the study and extended dialogue with developers has resulted in the selection of one of the options for implementation,” said Scoboria.

He noted that the elementary and secondary schools were reaching maximum Public Education Department capacity standards; grade level alignments were also investigated and it was concluded the alignment be changed to a kindergarden through five, six through eight and nine through 12 grade structure.

“The Board of Education determined that the Boyertown Area Senior High School will be redesigned with necessary additions and renovations to accommodate the district’s goals of adding ninth grade to the existing 10-12th grade building.”

“Alterations and additions to the existing Boyertown Area Senior High School will incorporate elements that are sensitive to the facilities current architecture and to the sites existing contours,” said Mark Barnhardt of EI associates. He added that the option also states, in addition to the high school renovations, that there would be future elementary school additions as needed.

Unlike the standard school board meetings, community members were invited to supply evidence to the Superintendent’s office, during regular business hours, from March 15 until noon on April 8. This items would have then been placed on the agenda for those to provide their oral testimony. Sign-up sheets were available for those who had not preregistered to speak.

Public comments were allowed a period of three minutes, if someone wished to speak longer they would have an opportunity to do so after all others had gotten their chance.

During the public comment period, Linda Flutterbaugh, a resident who moved back into this area of the state because of Boyertown’s historic architecture, stated, “Your job as a school board is certainly to make sure that the children and the adults in the school district are educated to the best possible degree.” Flutterbaugh also discussed the importance of setting an example and influencing growth in the community if the board were to decide to renovate the old portion of the High School.

Many community members took the opportunity to speak; the majority of which do not support the current plan to add onto the high school, and that renovatations to the high school would be best.

On Tuesday, April 30, the board will hold a Facilities Workshop to further discuss the plans before the vote for action takes place.