Proposed elementary building project in the works at Bellefonte Area School District
In a series of listening meetings in the winter and spring, the public was invited to hear and provide feedback about a proposed project to revamp elementary schools at Bellefonte Area School District.
It comes with multiple options members of the district and school board are looking into and considering safety, equity, transportation time, and creating community and best instructional practices, according to board member Kristen Bruckner.
Using a base estimate of $30 million, district Director of Fiscal Affairs Ken Bean said the project will hopefully be completed within five years and is working to minimize the potential tax increase.
“The board looked at financing – what we can do to not raise taxes (for this project),” he said. “We had our financial advisers go through and determine what we can do with an estimate of $30-$35 million, and refund our tax and bond issues (over 20 years) and come up with a level tax millage with no tax increase.”
The decision to create a proposed elementary school building plan came several years ago. Bean said the board hired Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates to conduct a facility cost index study primarily for elementary school buildings within the district that determined how much it would cost approximately to build new or renovate existing facilities.
The study also provided a numerical status of each building that shows how much of its useful life has been used. The higher the number, Bean said, the worse the building is: Bellefonte Elementary School, 99; Benner Elementary, 89; Pleasant Gap, 83; Marion-Walker, 32.
The board also approved the $4.5 million purchase of 107.57 acres of land behind the high school, in October 2011, with the intent of building a new elementary building.
Currently, members of the district and school board are in the process of narrowing down one of 13 architects. This, Bean said, “will help the district make a decision on what we want to do.”
- Rebuild Bellefonte Elementary School
- Combine Bellefonte and Benner elementary schools
- Combine Bellefonte, Benner and Pleasant Gap elementary schools
- Combine of all four elementary schools
*Bean said there also may be an option to build new and renovate other schools
*By Brit Milazzo, public relations director, BASD