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Bellefonte Will Reassess Elementary School Project Plan

by and on November 14, 2019 9:01 AM
Bellefonte, PA

After entering into contract negations with an architectural firm for the elementary school project, Bellefonte Area School District directors decided at the Nov. 6 board meeting to reassess the project and divide it into two separate steps.

“The first step is to study the district’s current situation, assess the long-term and short-term needs and engage the community and provide multiple options of which to choose a path forward,” said board president Jon Guizar. “Once we have that path forward, the second step would be to go through the architect selection process to design that preferred option.”

Guizar said the first process should take five or six months and wants to, “really engage the community and have the conversation from the architects of the different options across platforms, trying to engage the community in public meeting and social media.”

The board was to vote on a contract with McKissack Architects to move forward with the project after discussing three firms, but some board members expressed that they would like to negotiate with other firms and hear more options. Even in choosing an architect, no plans for the schools were to be finalized and the plan was to work with the architect to develop the best plan moving forward.

Current options include renovating Bellefonte Elementary School in downtown Bellefonte or build a new facility on land behind the high school near Governors Park.

Talks have also been held concerning the consolidation of the district’s four elementary schools. The district held community engagement meetings early this year and hopes to continue to include the community as it moves forward with the project.

“It will make it less confusing for the community and enable their voices to be heard in the decision,” said district superintendent Michelle Saylor.

The district will have to draw up a new RFP for the project and update the anticipated project deadline. No decisions have yet been made on the future of the district elementary schools and the district plans to continue to engage the public as it moves forward to eliminate any confusion about the project.

“You are still going to get questions over the elementary,” said board member Rodney Musser. He cited the confusion over the Roger Stadium project. “This past year, if we would have stuck the timeline that was in the RFP, we would be in a good place right now and the community would have been involved. And my hope is that as we progress this next year, we stick to the timeline that is in the RFP, because what happened this year is our fault.”

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

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