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Boyertown Area School District deals with growing pains

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Aug 14 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 15 2012 04:30:22 AM CDT

School district deals with growing pains

BOYERTOWN, Pa. -

The Boyertown Area School District is experiencing some major growing pains. Officials are bracing for overcrowding in the schools and they're looking for ways to avoid it.

Projections show the Boyertown Area School District is anticipating 650 new students in the next 10 years. And they were looking at four different options to manage the growth.

"The board has a monumental task, but I want them to put the kids first and what's best for the children before they make a decision," said Barb Biegler.

Biegler is the Boyertown Teachers' Union president and she's concerned about what the school board will decide in the coming month to handle 650 new students that are projected to go to the schools.

"If a school district is to receive reimbursement for renovation for an approved building project, we have until October 1st of this year to get plans in. It's a really tight timeline," said Superintendent Dion Betts.

But if they meet it and the state approves it, the state could cover up to 50% of the cost. There are several options to consider.

Constructing an addition to Colebrookdale and Pine Forge elementary schools.
Building a brand new elementary school.
Building a 9th grade center and moving 6th graders out of the elementary.
Or moving several grades around.

"The fourth option is to bring 9th grade into the high school, bring 6th grade up into the junior high and making a 9th through 12th high school program," said Betts.

The superintendent said since there isn't enough room at the high school for all four grades, his choice would be to move juniors and seniors to a new career academy. But he said the administration's final recommendation will come September 4.

Then it's in the board's hands.

"Just making sure everybody has their arms wrapped around all the different options, what the impact would be to the students and then of course to the taxpayers," said school board member Steve Eisler.

The board is expected to vote on a plan by September 11. There will be two community meetings the week of August 27.