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Bellefonte chooses architect for elementary school project

by on October 03, 2019 10:47 AM

BELLEFONTE — After meeting with three different firms and taking tours of the architects’ buildings, the Bellefonte Area School District School Board agreed to move forward and hire McKissack Architects for a potential project that would update elementary schools in the district.

On Sept. 24, the board voted 6-3 to authorize director of fiscal affairs Ken Bean and school solicitor Scott Etter to negotiate a contract with McKissack Architects to provide architectural services for the potential elementary construction and/ or renovation project. The contract is expected to be approved at the next school board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

Voting against were Kristen Bruckner, board president Jon Guizar and Donna Smith.

Board members discussed the three firms that showed interest — KCBA and RLPS, along with McKissack Architects — before voting. Several board members felt that all three firms would do a good job and were appreciative of the effort they each put in.

“It’s like the proverbial job interview. You can give a great interview, but maybe not be such a great employee. It’s a difficult process,” said Guizar. “I could be satisfied with any of these three, myself.”

The contract negations do not point toward what the district will do with the elementary schools, but after hearing from the community during public meetings in winter and spring, the architect will help the district move forward with a plan for the four district elementary schools. Questions remain about whether to renovate or combine certain schools in one location.

The district website said there are several options being considered: moving Bellefonte Elementary; combining Bellefonte and Benner; combining Bellefonte, Benner and Pleasant Gap; or a full consolidation. No decisions have been made at this time. The district also said it will be constructing the new building on land it owns behind the high school and adjacent to Governors Park.

The website said the district would anticipate — if all goes well, all deadlines are met and they do not meet any significant delays — opening a new building in August or September 2023.

Musser said he was impressed with the way McKissack Architects engages with the community on its projects. He also noted it was the least expensive of the three.

 



Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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