Myers Elementary School expansion plans continue

Rick Witt, a representative from the architectural firm Kimball and Associates, was on hand at the Bellwood-Antis School Board meeting this week to discuss future plans for Myers Elementary School.
He presented a complete feasibility study to the board.
Witt presented the data to the board, including a Department of Education study that labeled Bellwood-Antis as a slightly declining school district.
“They only take into consideration live births though,” said Witt, “they don’t consider new developments or highways.”
So, due to the absence of such statistics, Witt felt plans should be made as if Bellwood-Antis were a stable district.
Earlier this year, Witt addressed the board about the building process, “When you’re considering the building process, the result is a bunch of different pieces that fit together for what your project needs,” said Witt.
He explained that, after discussions with the administration at the beginning of the year, they looked at different categories based on enrollment, curriculum and deficiencies within the current building.
Witt said many things became apparent after walking through the current elementary building earlier this year.
“You have a special education program and learning enrichment but they are not in areas specifically designed for that or in the appropriate space,” Witt said in a previous article.
He also pointed out that the Myers Elementary School multipurpose room is sized for just eating but added that typically today these rooms have a dual purpose such as eating, holding gym classes and assemblies.
Witt added, “The kitchen is probably not undersized but because there’s a lack of storage, stuff is starting to infiltrate the kitchen.”
It was also suggested by Witt that the District Administrative offices could be transplanted into the elementary school.
“It’s not necessary they be in the elementary school, but it’s planning for the future. Plus you gain space in the high school,” he said. “You can return this building (middle and high school) to its full square footage for middle and high school purposes.”
Witt revisited these issues at the most recent board meeting stating the need for computer areas and technology areas as well as pointing out the lack of special education facilities, administrative space and conference space. There are also needs when it comes to accessibility.
However, Witt complemented the upkeep of the building saying, “In essence, you have a very well maintained building. A well-maintained, but aging building.”
He said it is well taken care of and is kept clean, but it hasn’t been updated in 20 years.
Witt said, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, facility upgrades can lead to a better learning environment.
“You have a great learning environment as it is,” said Witt.
As far as the next step, Witt said it’s up to the board to make the decision as to what they want to do next.
Superintendent Brian Toth thanked Witt for putting this study together and said board members will look over the feasibility plan and discussions will continue in November.