Bethlehem Press

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Board reviews successful projects

Monday, October 2, 2017 by Heather Nigrone Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

The board finance and facilities committees met Sept. 18. The topic of the evening was the extensive 2017 summer projects the district undertook. Projects ranging in scale from technology upgrades to new construction and demolition, made summer 2017 was the busiest summer the district has faced in years. Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy said he was impressed with the sheer volume of work that had to come together for the district to make these improvements.

The first major update was on the construction and demolition of Nitschmann MS. The new Nitschmann was ready as planned, and through the hard work of numerous employees, the district was able to obtain the certificate of occupancy at the start of summer. This allowed the district to begin transferring critical classroom materials, begin setting up computer labs, and allow teachers to prepare for the coming school year. A major fiber rerouting project was undertaken to route all of the computer cabling from the old building to the new one, which was of crucial importance, as Nitschmann feeds other district buildings as well.

The next wave that was completed included installing burglar and security systems, digital signage for students and time clocks for employees. For the old building, demolition could begin after certain hazardous materials were abated, and old underground fuel tanks were removed. Once the old building is fully demolished, the bus loop and parking lot will be the next priority, scheduled to start in mid-October. East Hills MS faced a major HVAC renovation project this summer with an aggressive construction schedule. Workers had to remove all of the carpeting and sand the concrete floors so students could return to school, as unexpected delays pushed the retiling project back. The project included both lighting and temperature control upgrades, and the workers had to install ductwork around existing network cables, and wireless network systems in the existing ceiling grid. In order to keep the dust and debris at a minimum, school staff cleaned up the construction areas daily.

Technology upgrades in the district were aimed at the behind the scenes efforts to meet the district Reading by Grade 3 initiative. The 16 elementary schools received 156 projectors; 117 blackboards were converted to interactive whiteboards. New chromebook computers were rolled out to 250 teachers, and new reading software and materials were also distributed, in order to ensure that the software and hardware is in place to allow teachers to build off their continued reading instructional training.

On top of these major projects, the district removed 4.000 obsolete computers and upgraded access to new computers districtwide. Fountain Hill ES had a replacement chiller installed, hallway and classroom carpeting projects. Freedom required pool draining and service, renovation of guidance offices and replacement of the planetarium seating. East Hills MS needed renovations to the nurse’s suite, while Governor Wolf ES had an outdoor classroom added. Liberty HS also required office construction, water meter replacements, and baseball field irrigation work.

For some taxpayers, the list discloses a picture of how and where tax dollars are invested. As a reminder, the district encourages all taxpayers to ensure they are receiving homestead credits toward school taxes. For residents not currently receiving that benefit, be on the lookout for a notice coming from the school in the upcoming weeks.