Lehigh Valley

Allentown School District talks new schools

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The Allentown School District took a step toward building a new elementary and middle school.

During Thursday night's board of directors' committee meeting, the committee unanimously granted the district to hire Alvin Butz to provide construction management services for both projects. Butz will be paid 2 percent of the total costs to ASD to construct all elements of the projects.

Interim Superintendent Gary Cooper praised Butz for the 2 percent rate; he said it was a more than competitive price.

Director Robert Smith said the elementary school would cost around $30 million to build, and the middle school would come with a $50 million price tag.

In presenting the proposal to the board, Thomas Smith, director of facilities services for ASD, said the district has had an outstanding relationship with Butz, and that the company has always delivered its projects on time and to highest quality of workmanship.

ASD officials said they are hoping to open a new elementary school in 2019 and a new middle school in 2020. The new elementary school would replace Cleveland and McKinley elementary schools. It is scheduled to be constructed on about 2.7 acres on West Gordon Street. The new middle school would replace Harrison-Morton Middle School.

Both measures will be on the regular board meeting agenda for final passage later this month.

In other news, Interim Business Administrator William Gretton said the district would be able to qualify for  exceptions from the state for special education and PSERS for just under an additional $4 million in revenue. This would allow ASD to raise taxes by 9 percent for the 2018 Fiscal Year budget. However Gretton acknowledged the district will have to work on lowering that number as such an aggressive tax hike is unlikely to garner board approval.

Also on Thursday night, the board forwarded a measure to name the Louis E. Dieruff Auditorium in honor of Peter Carpenter, who spent 30 years at the high school as a music teacher from 1959 through 1989.

He is the composer of the school's alma mater and served as choir director with several Broadway musicals during the 1960s and 1970s. Carpenter is now 89 years old.

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