Southeastern PA

Upper Perk approves plans for middle school conversion

PENNSBURG, Pa. - The Upper Perkiomen School Board approved plans and a budget Thursday night for a project that will convert the district’s middle school into a center for fourth- and fifth-graders.

Board directors were presented with the project plans by representatives from Fidevia Construction Management which will oversee the project. The building will be renovated in two phases, with Phase I focused on renovations for fourth- and fifth-grade classroom space and the second phase dedicated to renovating the building for alternative uses.

Phase I will cost the district an estimated $3,215,367. Phase II will cost $7,157,369.

The project will include renovated classrooms, a new administration area with a secure entrance, a new playground and additional office space. It will also include a classroom for students with autism and a sensory room.

With multiple design options on the table and the preliminary plan approved, the board will likely decide on a specific design in November. Equipment and construction resources are expected to be mobilized in March, with construction slated for the summer months.

Fidevia Construction Management founder and principal Daniel Cicala said the schedule is realistic.

“It’s a very doable schedule,” he said.

Cicala also added that the board will see no jumps in the preliminary budget in the coming weeks after board member John Farris questioned whether results of a facilities study by Fidevia would affect the cost. Cicala assured the board it would not.

Board approves career-readiness plan

The school board also gave the green light to the district’s new Act 339 plan, a career and college readiness program that is designed to prepare K-12 students to have a better grasp on their career aspirations.

The program is mandated by the state, and the district’s plan is already being viewed as a model one, according to George Reigle, the district’s director of pupil services and special education.

Reigle outlined the plan to the board, detailing state requirements that it must cover such as career awareness preparation, career acquisition, career retention, and entrepreneurship.

The district will expose students to different career opportunities and possibilities through activities, presentations and programs, and measure the students through “artifacts” that display students’ understanding of different career-based information. These artifacts include worksheets, reflections, surveys, and projects that will be collected throughout a student’s tenure in the district.

According to Reigle, the program will explore different careers, finance management, entrepreneurship, and foster communication with local business owners. Career and technical education will be subjected to the program as well.

District Assistant Superintendent Andrea Farina said the district’s dedication to crafting a comprehensive program shows students and staff alike that academics aren’t the only focus.

“I think a collateral benefit of this is that the message to the staff is everything you do from the day kids walk into our doors is relevant and powerful,” she said. “We’re not just here about academics. That’s not just what we’re doing — that everything you do relates to where kids are going in their future.”

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