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Italian Benches Removed from Middle School Plan
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            A plan to utilize benches through an Italian vendor at Upper Perkiomen's new middle school caught board member Melanie Cunningham by surprise.

            Representatives from the project's contractors broached the item during a recent construction meeting, according to Cunningham. During last week's school board meeting, Cunningham explained that the workers jokingly asked if the school planned on hosting weddings.

            "I was in shock," she wrote in an email message.

            During the Feb. 14 board meeting, Cunningham informed the members that she directed the contractors to remove the composite benches from the plan for the school, located at 901 Montgomery Ave in Upper Hanover. She said the move to utilize domestic benches would save the district $10,000.

            Italy was the only place the general contractor, Boro Construction, could find benches that would meet specifications set by architect, Breslin Ridyard Fadero Architects, of Allentown, according to an email from the member.

            "I sure am hoping there aren't any other extravagances on the plans," wrote Cunninghan, chair of the board's facilities committee. "I'll be watching."

            Cunningham could not identify the number of benches on the plan or the cost of each bench. However, she considers the proposed expenditure - which includes a long lead time and significant paperwork - unnecessary and a "crazy amount," according to an email received Monday. She expressed a preference for utilizing domestic benches in an outside courtyard.

            During the meeting Superintendent Alexis McGloin said she would have a conversation with Robert Breslin, a principal in the architectural firm, to find out about any similar specifications. McGloin did not return an email seeking comment.

            Member Raeann Hofkin suggested that the board immediately approve a change order. Solicitor Kyle J. Somers stated that quick action could adversely impact the district's current contracts. "We need to know all our options," Somers said.

            In other news, the members also voted unanimously to submit PlanCon H to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The submission will allow the district to apply for reimbursement from the agency, according to Sandra Kassel, the district's business administrator.

            "This is a big one," she said during the meeting.

            With a unanimous vote, the members approved a motion to hire a West Chester company to help the district move into the new middle school and the renovated 4th & 5th Grade Center at 510 Jefferson Street in East Greenville. Wayne Moving & Storage Company will be paid an estimated cost of $93,398, according to Kassel.

            In a separate motion, the board approved paying the professional staff $35 per hour for eight hours - a rate determined by the teacher's contract - for their work packing and moving materials to both schools. Kassel told the members she did not have a total moving cost.





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