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Boyertown School Board Reviews New High School Design, Residents Oppose Razing Original Structure

By Greg Didyoung, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 19 2013 09:38:50 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 19 2013 09:40:49 PM CST
BOYERTOWN, Pa. -

Boyertown school board members where given a presentation that outlined potential renovations and additions to the high school Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, more than 40 Boyertown residents and alumni attended the meeting to voice their opposition to the possible demolition of the existing high school.

"The historical value of this building means it should be saved," said Hugh Kelley, who was Boyertown's class president in 1953.

The original high school building was built in 1920 with various additions added throughout the years. The district is moving to a new educational model called the "academy concept" which would give students a wider range of academic choices while emphasizing an intimate learning atmosphere. The district's plans also include moving ninth-grade into the high school, so they say an expansion is necessary.

Mark Barnhardt of EI Associates, an architecture engineering and planning firm gave a power-point presentation that outlined how the existing school would be renovated and expanded. Plans include more classes, added stairwells, lounges, enhanced security, and even a student-run cafe.

"All of these plans need further review, we only have drafts in front of you today," Barnhardt cautioned.

Currently, the state-of-the-art facility presented does not integrate the original high school. "Our plan renovates additions that were put onto the high school throughout the years. Whatever the school board wants to do with the original structure built in the 1920's is entirely up to them. They could use it for other educational purposes, make it a historical society, or make it a parking lot."

The school board has three options as to what to do with the original building. One is to tear down an addition built in 1938 to disconnect the old building from the new one, another is to build a firewall between the old and new building, while the third option is complete removal of the original structure.

Boyertown resident Donald Fry asked the district to do more research before reaching a decision adding, "We should be committed to preserving the area's architecture and history."

The balance between doing what's best for students while preserving Boyertown's past ensures this issue will not be easily resolved. Board members invited the public to further discuss the issue at their next meeting at 7:30 p.m. on March 11th in the Junior High West School.