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High School Renovation Project Delayed

Construction is not expected to begin at Bensalem High School until the fall.

Construction is not expected to begin at Bensalem High School until the fall.
Construction is not expected to begin at Bensalem High School until the fall.

The $78 million renovation and expansion project planned for Bensalem High School has been delayed by about three months, a district official told Patch.

Construction was expected to begin in June, officials said previously, but the district's Director of Business Operations, Kenneth Medina, said that work is not expected to get underway until late August or September.

Officials are in discussion on the design phase of the project, Medina said and would then move into the second part of that phase, which involves the completion of final drawings needed to bid the project. Bidding was originally set for March, but he said that will not happen now until June or July.

The three-month delay means construction would continue through the end of 2015 or early 2016, based on the schedule district officials outlined previously. 

One of the "hurdles" the district has to contend with relates to the scheduling of courses while work is ongoing. 

"We have to phase into our schedule what courses we can offer if we have fewer classrooms in the high school," Medina said. "A portion of a wing may be closed."

Officials must now finalize which phases would be happening in the construction schedule and, in all likelihood, may need to change a semester.

"It's a logistical hurdle," he said. 

Part of the construction project involves asbestos remediation, officials have said. Students will not be in danger if construction work begins while the school year is in progress, Medina said.

There is "plenty" of asbestos surveying going on throughout the year and professionals will "communicate what may be in the building and remediation and how to contain that," he said. 

"It’s not like we’re going to start ripping down walls without concern for students," Medina said.  

The Bensalem High School renovation plans call for a 23,000-square-foot addition to the 45-year-old school and renovations to reconfigure the high school into four academies: Ninth Grade, Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Fine & Performing Arts, and Business and International Studies.

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Joan Schleinkofer January 14, 2014 at 09:06 AM
I would be a bit concerned about the "hurdle" of scheduling courses mentioned in the article. The quote was "we have to phase into our schedule what courses we can offer if we have fewer classrooms in the high school" - does anyone know how/if this will this affect the courses and/or course selection process for students for the next two years?
Believe January 17, 2014 at 04:13 PM
Why wouldn't they just put up temporary classrooms like most school districts do during renovations??? Many wanted more information on the total price of these renovations and having delays doesn't instill confidence in school leadership. Recent articles show the Bensalem School District "stockpiling" tax payer dollars to the tune of between 30-40 million and asking for tax increases.
Kevin Brutschea April 01, 2014 at 11:27 AM
The High School is instituting an "Academy" program, which I was told means the school is going to be divided into quads. So I guess that program probably takes into account the number classrooms available. But the outgoing school board kept us in the dark, and I see no reason to believe that the current board will be any different.
Joan Scully Schleinkofer April 01, 2014 at 12:22 PM
Understood, Kevin, but i believe the "academy" program and the formation of "quads" cannot be instituted until the renovations are complete? What does that mean for current 9th, 10th and 11th grade students, and incoming 8th graders for that matter? Will the course selections for the next two years be limited due to lack of classroom space as quoted above? I don't know much about it, so maybe my concerns are unfounded - someone set me straight, please.
Kevin Brutschea April 01, 2014 at 03:23 PM
No Joan, your questions are not unfounded. The problem is the Board is not doing a good job of explaining what's going on. This is why, especially if you have a child, or children attending, or planning to attend BHS, you go to the School Board meetings and present your questions to them. I'm sure they won't be able to implement the Academy until the school building is ready, but without a construction start date it's impossible to guess when this will happen.

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