$152 Million Plan Outlined; No Referendum Set for Bristol Schools

Bristol Township School District gave more details on a plan that could change the district. What are your thoughts? Tell us.

Bristol Township School District Superintendent Samuel Lee said the school system has no plans to place a $152.6 million purposed plan to build three new elementary schools and renovate two middle schools up for referendum.

Lee’s statement was met with resistance from some residents who spoke at the nearly 3-hour-long public meeting on the plan Tuesday night.

Fairless Hills resident Brian Lachewitz asked for the item to be put on the ballot for taxpayers in the cash-strapped school district to decide. He cited the hefty price tag as the reason for his request.

“We can’t afford Beverly Hills schools in Bristol Township,” Lachewitz said. His statement was met with applause and cheers from the crowd of about 300 gathered in the Benjamin Franklin School auditorium.

The meeting was filled with resident concerns over transportation, security and other topics.

District officials did not believe transportation costs would rise because of the new schools. They also said the new schools would be built with security features greater than those currently present in the elementary buildings.

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Carol Becker and other residents told the board that they fear the new school would raise their taxes. District officials said no tax increases would be needed to pay for the school due to several factors. Some of those factors include a low debt service, favorable interest rates, state reimbursement, reduced building costs and “staffing efficiencies.”

Lee said staff reductions would be hopefully gained through attrition and come from all parts of the district, not just teachers. The reductions could save the district $3.5 million.

Lee began the meeting with a slideshow showing the “aging and challenged facilities that make up the district’s 9 elementary schools that could be torn down and consolidated into three new 1300-student buildings.

The superintendent noted all the school had boilers which are between 30 and 80 years old. He added that many of the schools’ electrical systems can not handle the increased demand from computer systems, growing population and inefficiencies.

While the plan states that all the current elementary schools are to be closed, new $37 million buildings would be built at the James Buchanan, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Mary Devine elementary school sites. An opening date is being projected for September 2015.

The district would close Franklin D. Roosevelt Middle School under the plan. Neil A. Armstrong Middle School and the former Benjamin Franklin School would be renovated to for students. The middle school could open for students in 2016.

The district administrative offices would merge under one roof with the operations sector at a renovated Clara Barton Elementary School.  The work would cost nearly $4 million.

Renovations for Harry S. Truman High School are not expected in the next few years, officials said. The move was done to keep the tax rate from increasing due to the project, officials said.

Along with the new buildings, the district would migrate from a K-6 program to a K-5.

Lee said the district does not have a firm plan on what to do with the elementary school buildings. He indicated that selling the buildings or taking down the structure and making the land open space were two possibilities.

What are your thoughts on the plan? Tell us.


  • BTSD Submits Concept Plans for New Schools
Amy Michael Lynn February 13, 2013 at 02:05 PM
While it makes me sad to think of my elementary school closing, it does sound like a good idea. I'm just not sure how I feel about an elementary school with a 1300 student capacity. It's a huge jump from were we are now. It just sounds like too many little kids in one building, but maybe that's just because we only have smaller schools in this area.
John February 13, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Lee said staff reductions would be hopefully gained through attrition and come from all parts of the district, not just teachers. The reductions could save the district $3.5 million Staff should not be reduced we already have over a dozen teachers that are on Furlough. Lets get all the teachers back in place and get the budget fixed before adding more debt. A good portion of the teachers in Bristol Township live there. I think the district needs to focus on the education. I know the buildings are old and in poor condition but we need to get these kids the proper amount of teachers in the classroom. Lets fix one problem before making more
Tammy N February 13, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Amy, the plan that was shown last night was each 1300 student school was going to have two separate buildings that were connected together with one common multi-purpose room (gymnasium/ auditorium). The two buildings would run as two, 650 student schools on one property to cut down on building costs. I hope that clears up some of your concerns.
Elaine Nahill February 13, 2013 at 02:42 PM
I am looking forward to my grandchildren attending the new schools, My husband and I went to Lincoln in the 60s. My children went through Emerson and Barton in the 80s and we all attended Wilson and Truman. This is a great! I look forward to the change for Bristol Township.
Amy Michael Lynn February 13, 2013 at 03:26 PM
Thank you, Tammy! That does make me feel better about it.
Tricia February 14, 2013 at 12:24 AM
I went to school in Philadelphia, although there were not as many grade schools around they were not 1300 children strong. That's an enormous amount of kids in one place, timing for gym, busing, outdoor activities, security and so on are an issue. I graduated with over 1200 kids and the school was huge, I laughed when I saw Truman. But the city had to cut down the grade as we were 7th thru 12th, they built middle schools bc all those kids in one place was too difficult to juggle and we were older, I do not see this working for the very young. I realize there are way too many grade schools I realize our schools are old, but I also realize the board and esp. Sam Lee cannot be trusted. Believe me when I tell you we will pay for this dearly, they are taxing us right of the township, what we pay in taxes isn't worth what were getting now. Crappy roads, crappy high paid teachers, a really high crime rate......this is a done deal guys don't let them kid you we should have a say a vote on this we don't so......
Theresa Oliphant February 14, 2013 at 12:26 AM
Im excited to see something positive happen in this district for a change.
Dianna S. February 14, 2013 at 01:08 AM
I feel the same way as Theresa. I'm tired of having people from other parts of Levittown and Bucks County looking down their noses at Bristol Twp. Schools.
chuck clayton February 14, 2013 at 04:23 PM
we need to change the school board,every time they get an idea we pay for it.It they need to get the budget under control first.every time they run into a problem we pay for it.it is just the same old thing every time. I dont trust this whole ordeal.
C Finsel February 14, 2013 at 04:33 PM
I understand the concerns on the amount of kids in a school. If this was a jr/high school where kids are changing classes every hr I could see it not being a good idea. But with it being a k-5 school kids will be in the classes for most of day so you will not have 1300 kids moving around all day. Would it of been nice for the tax payers to have been ale to vote on it? yes it would have.But since it is going through anyways.I feel we all need to stand behind it and find ways to make sure it works out instead of going back and worrying about whether we got to vote on it or not.Just my opinion
Jamie Pacheco February 14, 2013 at 07:38 PM
I actually think its a good idea for the fact that the schools are old n the boilers are also and the electrical think about it how much longer can they last before a fire or something else happens and our kids are stuck being put into already over populated schools my sons 1st grade class has 29 kids in the class that's less one on one interaction with the students this would benefit the kids greatly
Robin Disbrow February 14, 2013 at 08:31 PM
My kids go to Lincoln, considering we are on the list of Pa's lowest achieving schools....I hope we get better teachers along with the new elementary schools. I would love to know that my kids are in a warm cozy building in the winter & a cool one in the warm months. The playground is a joke now what 1 slide & a couple swings, they need a new state of the art, handicap accessible one too. Let's hope they make the whole township better with our already high taxes by making the roads better, schools better & crime less. If I could move tomorrow out of this township trust me I would because its not good.
Craig Motyka March 20, 2013 at 01:52 AM
The books need to be opened up every dolllar this board has handled over the last decade needs to be examined before we let theemhave another 150 million which I might add the party bosses from both rep and dems already have thier hands on... Craig Motyka Wayne Turner for school board !!!!


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