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    School board approves Hunt to conduct needs assessment on district elementary buildings

    By Brit Milazzo
    bmilazzo@basd.net
    Public relations, BASD

    With a vote of 6-3, the Bellefonte Area school board approved to retain Hunt, an architect and engineering firm with locations in New York and Pennsylvania, to conduct a needs assessment for district elementary buildings. It comes at a district cost of $59,400. The decision was made at a school board meeting on Feb. 25 after previously hearing proposals from four firms that also included Sitelogiq, Weber Murphy Fox and W2A Design Group.

    Bids declined came at costs of $92,500, $89,000 and $9,750.

    According to school board Vice President Jeff Steiner, the needs assessment will include professional services with architects and engineers working on the frontend to conduct the evaluation of each elementary building in the district. With data compiled, a community engagement piece will be included to make sure all stakeholders -- including district staff, tax payers and more -- are part of the process. This, Steiner added, will help the board and district determine whether or not elementary schools within Bellefonte Area School District should be renovated, a new elementary building be constructed or both. (Proposal and assessment details are provided later in this article)

    Elementary schools within in the district are Bellefonte, Benner, Marion-Walker and Pleasant Gap elementary schools.

    You may find possible elementary building options in this article published July 2019: https://www.basd.net/Page/14416. In the fall, the board then decided to nix the project and restart with efforts at a later date to ensure a more thoughtful process. Proposals still include renovations and/or construction of a new elementary school building, based on results of the needs assessment, community input and other factors.

  • "They will be engaging the district and the community as we move forward, and we hope to bring the district to a decision and path forward no later than June, but that date will remain flexible some to meet the needs as we navigate the process," board President Jon Guizar said in an email to the district's public relations director.

    Guizar added that a kickoff meeting will be held with Hunt on Wednesday March 4 with members of the board and district.

    Those in opposition of retaining Hunt for the needs assessment were board members Mark Badger, Kristen Bruckner and Rodney Musser, which included reasoning of price discrepancy – a nearly $50,000 price difference among Hunt and Sitelogiq, formerly known as Reynolds.

    You may see the proposals, here:

    In its RFP – request for proposal – the board and district required bidding companies to follow a certain scope of services. It stated, “The project shall be a predesign collaboration between all stakeholders to reach a conclusion on an equitable elementary program in the district.” It went on to say that “All respondents should understand that the firm selected through this pre-draft RFP will not be eligible to bid on the design phase of the elementary project.”

    Voting in favor of Hunt, at least two school board members said they believed Sitelogiq was “solicitous” in its bid proposal by dropping its price of the needs assessment with the hope to gain more business from the school district in the future and therefore disqualifying Sitelogiq for the needs assessment based on perceived violation of the RFP. Board members also said Sitelogiq estimated it would take just a fourth of the time to do the needs assessment than the other companies predicted, making some school board members say they didn’t believe Sitelogiq would put in the time to conduct quality work.

    You may see the board discussion and vote in the link provided, at the 02:08:10 mark: School board meeting, Feb. 25