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Boyertown School Board leases Pine Forge building for early education classes

DOUGLASS (Berks) — The Boyertown Area School Board has voted to lease the former Pine Forge Elementary School building to the Berks County Intermediate Unit to house early education classes.

According to the 18-page lease agreement, the 37,186-square-foot building is to be used only for classes run by Pre-K Counts, Head Start and the BCIU’s Early Intervention programs.

The lease, which runs through the 2026-2027 school year with the option to extend it for one more school year, includes rent payments that start at $185,930 and increase by 3 percent each year up to $203,170.

The Intermediate Unit may use the playground and gazebo on the grounds “as is,” but the baseball fields there are for use by the Pine Forge Little League, according to the lease.

Any permits, zoning approvals, or other items involving Douglass (Berks) Township are the responsibility of the Intermediate Unit to obtain, according to the lease, which can be terminated by either party with 180-days notice, or if the IU loses outside funding for the early education programs.

The lease may also be terminated by the district if the building needs repairs costing more than $17,500. Otherwise, maintenance and trash pick-up are the responsibility of the IU.

The need for repairs and upgrades to the building was cited in 2019 when the school board voted 6-3 to close the building and re-distribute its students into other elementary schools.

In addition to maintenance and upgrade costs, estimated between $1 million and $8 million, the district had cited dwindling enrollment figures for the school as part of its decision to close it. In the year the decision was made to close it, Pine Forge had 215 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, a number the district said continued the annual decrease every year since 2013, a decline a consultant had forecast would continue..

Supporters of keeping Pine Forge Elementary Elementary School open, wore red to the Boyertown Area School Board meeting when the first vote to begin the process of closing the school was held.
Chris Sponagle

Supporters of keeping Pine Forge Elementary Elementary School open, wore red to the Boyertown Area School Board meeting when the first vote to begin the process of closing the school was held.

Two of the board members who cast dissenting votes to close the school, Christine Neiman and Ruth Dierolf, were among those who voted to lease it on May 14. In contrast to the lead-up to the vote to close the school, when hundreds of parents showed up to protest, there was no public discussion about the decision to lease it prior to the May 14 vote.

Pine Forge Elementary School was first constructed in 1928 as Douglass Township Grade School. It was upgraded in 1957 and 1987 and is located on eight acres of land in Douglass (Berks) Township.


Source: Berkshire mont

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