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Fountain Hill ES building proposal presented

Community members and residents gathered Feb. 29 at Fountain Hill Elementary School for the first public presentation of the proposed construction of the new Fountain Hill Elementary School. Bethlehem Area School District Supt. Dr. Jack Silva spoke to a group of 50 or so people all eager to hear more about the new school.

The new school will be built on the current footprint. Adjustments will be made for topographical variations and there will be much more natural light. The library will best exemplify the use of natural light as it is considered the centerpiece of the building. Meetings will be held there and it will have a panoramic view of Fountain Hill and Bethlehem.

The grounds will have a more varied distribution of outdoor hard and soft surfaces. This will aid in better drainage for both the school and residences near the school. Environmental considerations include use of soft surfaces, green roofing, natural plantings and less use of hard/cement surfaces then the current school. Form will follow function, Silva explained.

The budget for this school is $60 million and construction should take two years. The demolition of the old school will begin as soon as school lets out in June 2025.

The classrooms will be split into grade pods. A group of classes make a pod. They will be near each other to conserve resources and aid in grade continuity.

“Each grade will be like a little community - a learning pod,” Silva said.

During a question and answer potion of the presentation, questions were posed regarding asbestos removal. BASD Chief Facilities Officer Mark Stein reassured everyone that asbestos would be removed by licensed asbestos professionals meeting all regulations regarding removal.

Security was also discussed. Silva stated there would be “secure vestibules, cameras and mechanized door locks.” The building will be completely ADA compliant.

Parking was another concern. The new school is designed with a designated drop off and pick up points that will keep traffic moving. The property itself will maintain adequate parking for staff and guests.

Using eminent domain is not needed because everything can fit onto the current property.

“We want to maximize learning areas,” Silva said. “No wasted space, very compact.”

Silva ended his presentation by stating the primary goal is for the new building to meet the students educational needs and that the building “fit” into the neighborhood, be financially responsible and be environmentally practical and a safe place to learn.

PRESS PHOTOS BY Jenn Rago People gather in the Fountain Hill ES gym as BASD Superintendent Dr. Jack Silva presents the proposed new building.
Chef Facilities Officer Mark Stein explains the process for safe asbestos removal.
Supt Dr. Jack Silva takes questions from the audience at the public meeting regarding the proposed Fountain Hill ES.