Board moves to save older portions of Boyertown High School

After much discussion on Tuesday, April 30, the Boyertown Planning Facilities Committee has decided to not demolish the older sections of the high school; the sections will not be utilized for education, but for another purpose yet to be determined.

EI Associates reviewed two potential options with the board: one option that includes the 1920 and 1938 sections and one that does not.

It was iterated by EI Associates that the entire building is eligible for state reimbursement through PlanCon, as long as enrollment capacity according to feasibility study is provided.

Board members unanimously decided to pursue the option which maintains the older portions of the building.

Mark S. Barnhardt of EI Associates stated that when it comes to any structure over 50 years old, it is required to submit a letter to the Department of Education stating that a portion over 50 years old.

Such a letter was sent to the DEP regarding the 1920 and 1938 portions of the Boyertown Area Senior High. In their response, the DEP stated that the building is not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. It is their opinion that “due to the large 1992 addition, the integrity of the building has been compromised.”

“So, because it’s attached to the new additions, it’s not eligible. If we detached it would that make it eligible?” asked board member Stephen Elsier.

“The state is saying that while it is attached, it has no historical significance to them,” said Barnhardt.

Upon the board’s request, EI Associates will approach the DEP to find out if detaching the building would restore its historical significance. “That would put more requirements on renovations. If that’s your desire as a board, we’ll look into it. There may be more costs, but there could be grants available.”

To decision to save the building forces the board and administration to find another use for it.

“I’ll only agree to this if we seriously come up with a use . If we don’t, we’re just doing what they did in 1992,” said board member Ronald Christman.

There was mention of using the sections for an academy such as Visual Performing Arts or Entrepreneurship; the board unanimously decided against using the older portions for instruction purposes.

“We need to make a commitment,” said board member Donna L. Usavage, recommending that the building be used for administrative or community purposes and to approach the usage as a separate project from the renovation.

Facilities Chair John Chair brought the meeting to a conclusion by stating that the board wishes to maintain the old building and not use it for instructional purposes.

“It’s helpful to come to a resolution on the old building. Serious discussions will be needed for possible usages of the building,” said Acting Superintendent Robert Scoboria.

Alternative uses for the building will be discussed at the next Facilities Planning Committee meeting on Monday, May 6, at 6:30 p.m.

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