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Bermudian Springs may raze old middle school; celebrates “Music in our Schools” month

The Bermudian Springs school district will seek new bids for the old middle school project after the initial bids came in well over the project’s budget. The school board agreed to invite the new bids following a vote during the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday evening.

The board declined to accept multiple bids related to work on the middle school. The bids ranged from $299,500 for plumbing to $2,790,000 for a general contractor. The board agreed to seek new bids “for demolition of the old middle school and construction of a new facility,” according to the board’s agenda.

The decision had previously been discussed during Monday evening’s caucus meeting when school directors were told the bids significantly exceeded the budget set for the project.

The base bids came in at a total of $4,372,500 compared to the district’s budget of $2,738,848, according to a representative for Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates, the architects working on the project. During Monday’s meeting, the board was told some of the higher costs were a result of the pandemic. Demolition estimates were lower than anticipated while construction materials costs are currently higher than usual.

On Monday, the board was told it may make more financial sense to demolish the entire building rather than renovate it.

“We obviously were disappointed… Remember, the ultimate goal was to reuse the facility,” Superintendent Shane Hotchkiss said during the caucus meeting. “We were just trying to reuse what we had and some of the feedback was, ‘That’s good,’ right? But it actually amounted to more labor because of the amount of work that they had to do to be able to make everything fit that he just described.”

During Monday’s meeting, Hotchkiss told the board that seeking new bids will provide more clarity regarding what is possible.

“That just puts us in a position to get the information back and make the decision from there,” he said.

On Tuesday, the board followed the suggestion, agreeing to dismiss the bids and pursue new ones.


Jon Defoe, principal of the high school, said the school’s production of “Mamma Mia!” was a success.

“And thanks to the tremendous support they got, we had three great crowds for each performance,” Defoe said. “And I know they were extremely excited and happy to be performing live and in person again.”

Defoe also told the board that swimmer Kate Elliott did well during the District 3 competition last weekend and qualified to swim in the upcoming PIAA meet.

Music Month

The board acknowledged Music in Our Schools Month by watching a video of student musicians’ and staff members’ reflections on music.

Hotchkiss presented the four and a half-minute video to the board. The video featured brief clips of members of the school band in fourth through sixth grades.

The video stated that the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) celebrates March as the Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM) to promote music education.

Several children provided brief statements for the video, stating their grade, the instrument they play and what they like about playing in the school band. The children’s reasons for playing ranged from having fun and appreciating music to enjoying the challenge of mastering new pieces.

According to the video, the middle school has had “blasts from the past” this month to celebrate music education. Staff members have added displays to the hallways communicating their love of music. Those experiences were also shared in the video with written statements accompanied by photos, with staff detailing their time in the band, choir, musical theatre and musical experiences outside of school.

“And again, thank you to Ms. Danielson for putting that together, and to our students and staff for sharing their experiences with music,” Hotchkiss said. “We do appreciate the music programs and the support K-12. I think we have an outstanding music program and it’s great to be able to highlight some of our kids, and soon I hope that we can get them in here to perform during one of our board meetings, so thanks again.”

Other business

The board approved the hiring of a varsity assistant softball coach and seven Girls on the Run coaches, among other personnel decisions.

It also approved the 2022-23 operating budget for the Adams County Technical Institute.

March 25 was previously scheduled to have an early dismissal, but the board agreed to change it to an asynchronous day. The decision applies to all grade levels.

The board also unanimously agreed to a resolution calling for changes to charter school funding.

No one spoke during the time for public comment and there was no scheduled speaker.

The next regular meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 12. Meetings are held in the high school auditorium and are livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

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Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist. She was a staff newspaper reporter for five years before becoming a freelancer in 2017. She has written on crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.

You can visit her website at ImariJournal.com.

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