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Bethlehem Area School District unveils initial designs for new Fountain Hill Elementary School. Here’s a look

An artist's rendering of the proposed Fountain Hill Elementary School in the Bethlehem Area School District. The original building was built in 1937 with additions in the ’70s and ’90s. (Contributed photo)
An artist’s rendering of the proposed Fountain Hill Elementary School in the Bethlehem Area School District. The original building was built in 1937 with additions in the ’70s and ’90s. (Contributed photo)
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Bethlehem Area School District now has the schematic designs for its new Fountain Hill Elementary School building.

Engineering and architecture representatives presented their work at Monday’s school board meeting before refining the designs and submitting a sketch plan to Fountain Hill Borough for land development input. There will also be a presentation of the schematic designs to the Fountain Hill school community in January.

The proposed building designs have been developed in recent months by a steering committee that includes Superintendent Jack Silva and school Directors Michael Faccinetto, Karen Beck Pooley and Winston Alozie, among others. The new building will be constructed on the school’s existing site at 1330 Church St. in the district’s southwest corner and will be 85,000 square feet.

The steering committee nixed the open concept in the current Fountain Hill building, which was constructed in 1937 with additions in the ’70s and ’90s. It was originally used as a high school.

The new school will have three levels and grades will be organized in pods so students can share services. An academic wing will separate classrooms from core facilities, such as the gym, cafeteria, library and art room.

“It will serve academically the type of education that we’re looking for, students [will] receive high-quality instruction in flexible spaces, where instruction is the key enterprise within the building,” Silva said.

Beck Pooley noted there are “really generous classroom sizes,” adding lower grades have space for carpet time to reinforce literacy initiatives.

Kindergarten and first grade will have their own separate entrance in the new building on Church Street next to a main entrance; older grades will enter through doors on Moravia Street that lead to the second level. A community center connected to the school will have its own entrances for residents to access a food pantry and clothing closet.

  • Kindergarten and first grade will have their own separate entrance...

    Kindergarten and first grade will have their own separate entrance in the new building on Church Street next to a main entrance.

  • Older grades will enter through doors on Moravia Street that...

    Older grades will enter through doors on Moravia Street that lead to the second level.

  • There’s a drop of about 40 feet from the back...

    There’s a drop of about 40 feet from the back of the school to the front; the elevation also drops by about 50 feet between the two sides of the building, from Norway Place to Garden Street.

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Arif Fazil, president of D’Huy Engineering Inc., and Michael Metzger, architect and president of Alloy5, said the Fountain Hill site is challenging because of its varying elevation.

There’s a drop of about 40 feet from the back of the school at Moravia Street to the front on Church Street; the elevation also drops by about 50 feet between the two sides of the building, from Norway Place to Garden Street.

Additional challenges include creating adequate parking and spaces for student pick-up and drop-off by car, which pertains to a sizable number of students even though the school consists primarily of walkers.

The project will cost about $62.2 million, with $1.5 million of that covered by a grant from the state. That figure does not include the cost of procuring a temporary space for students to learn in during construction, which has not yet been determined; the district is negotiating the lease for a space in Bethlehem.

The bidding phase of the project will begin in January 2025. Construction will start in June 2025 and wrap up by the end of June 2027.

The district will discuss construction options for two other aging elementary schools — William Penn and Thomas Jefferson, both built in 1972 — by the beginning of 2026.

Morning 첥Ƶ reporter Jenny Roberts can be reached at 484-903-1732 and jroberts@mcall.com.

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