The Boyertown Area School District Board of School Directors approved on January 8 by a 7-2 vote the schematic design plan of the senior high additions and renovations project.
The schematic plan from architectural firm EI Associates includes an academy approach with academies for different fields of learning, such as visual and performing arts, within the existing footprint, each with their own student meeting area and admistrative area. Also included is an upgrade to food service and the library as part of a new student commons area, as well as additional parking to accommodate increasing enrollment and the district’s ninth-graders at the high school.
Another change contained in the schematic plan is the demolition of the 1938 portion of the high school to replace it with a roadway to achieve vehicular circulation around the school campus. This would separate the school from its original building built in 1920.
EI Associates stated to the board that the cost to build new construction versus renovate the old building would be about the same, while the new construction would allow for the firm to better achieve the districts goal of an academy approach in its plan.
Board members Ruth Dierolf and Robert Haas provided the dissenting votes. Both had expressed similar concerns with moving forward with the project, as neither would want to risk a scenario where paying for the $55 million expansion and renovation would jeopardize the ability for the district to fund its programs or teachers in the budget.
“I don’t want to have a nice looking building and can’t afford to put staff in it,” said Dierolf.
Business Administrator for the school district David Szablowski stated that the project would be affordable to the district without a significant tax increase based on a wraparound plan that “this debt will just replace what is currently on the books (from the district’s 1992 construction). So when one expires, this one will take its place.”
With the schematic plans approved the next step in the process is for the Harrisburg based firm EI to head into the design development phase of the project using the schematic plan as well as further input from the district. Design development will include determining mechanical systems and building materials that will be used on the project while further refining its design.
The tentative timeline is to have the high school project up for bid by contractors at the end of this summer and to begin construction on the project October 2013 with a scheduled completion by August 2015.
In other news, the board voted to elect former board member Joseph Nichols to the same position, filling the vacancy left by the recent resignation of board member and Region 1 representative Kenneth Parsons.
Nichols, a longtime Bally resident had previously filled a vacancy on the board in 2006 and was subsequently elected in 2007 where he served a four year term.
“I thought I had more to contribute,” said Nichols on his pursuit to fill this new vacancy.