In an effort to make late-winter decisions on the fate of two of Southern Lehigh School District's elementary schools, both school district and municipal officials accompanied by engineers toured Hopewell and Lower Milford elementary schools on January 8th.

As part of her monthly report to the board, Superintendent Leah Christman said school board directors Kathy Parsons, Brian Merkle, and William Lycett attended the recent tour accompanied by Southern Lehigh Director of Support Services Todd Bergey and Rob Sarnowski, an engineer from Barry Isett Engineering.

Representing the municipalities where the schools are located were Lower Milford Supervisors Michael Snovich and chair Donna Wright for Lower Milford Elementary.

Upper Saucon Supervisors representing Hopewell Elementary were Patrick Leonard and Philip Spaeth accompanied by Upper Saucon Borough Manager Thomas Beil rounded out the tour, said Christman.

She noted both tours were attended by all parties and included the inspections of lavatories, kitchens, classrooms, boiler rooms, and plumbing and electrical utilities.

Both Christman and Bergey said Hopewell Elementary, built in 1970, has limited electrical capacity by present-day standards in addition to very outdated plumbing located in the walls. Bergey specified that when there's a pipe leak at Hopewell, walls have to be torn down to access the affected pipes.

Christman commented the tours were informative, appreciated, and well-conducted and there primary purpose was to keep everyone involved "in the loop" because of the extensive amount of information disseminated about the elementary schools since last Fall.

Bergey and Christman both feel with the improving economy, the sooner the board makes a final determination regarding the schools the better, since any long-term delays will cost the district more to borrow money and construct a new facility.

The board is expected to cast its final votes on five options regarding the fate of both schools at either its February or March upcoming meetings.