Questions and Answers

Church School Questions

*Updated answers as of 2/15/23
What is the current timeline for this project?*

Below is a list of scheduled events that everyone can expect in the near future. One important thing to note is that the permitting process has begun but we have not gotten any approvals yet. Because we have not gotten permit approvals yet, these dates are still subject to change. Rest assured; everyone is pushing hard to stay on schedule!

April 1 - last day of shopping at BATS
May 8 - Barn dismantling, completed end of May
Early April – 100% of drawings are complete
Late May – Permit approvals
Late May - Partial parking lot and playground to be fenced off with reduced accessibility
Late May - Whiting Turner Mobilization. This is when they will “move in” and start prepping the site for construction (5/31)
Early June – Construction perimeter fence goes up (6/7)
Mid June – Demo of the remainder of BATS foundation (6/21)
Late June – Site grading begins (6/27)
Early Aug – Begin laying out foundations

Are contingencies in place for this project?

Yes, there is an 8.5% contingency for the building plan.

Can the existing playground be maintained?

The existing playgrounds will be moved to new locations once the building is complete. The new wooden structure may need to be dismantled and stored until the new building is finished, however, the primary and intermediate play spaces will remain where they are until we move to the new location.

Is geo-thermal heating and cooling still possible?

Unfortunately, no.  It was financially unattainable, and we had to move forward with another option that was significantly less expensive and meets most of the desired qualities of the geo-thermal option. Large savings were proposed to change from water source to air source heating/cooling. While the system we have chosen for the new building is not quite as efficient as a geothermal system could be, it is still considered to be highly efficient.  The system will utilize heat recovery technology to limit the amount of energy needed to heat or cool all of the different spaces.

How will all this construction affect the homes directly across the street?

As with any construction project, there will be temporary sound disruptions and construction vehicle traffic. However, there are rules and regulations in place that ensure that these are kept to a minimum. We do not expect there to be any permanent effects to the homes across Tomlinson. As for the road itself, there will need to be some cutting and digging done for new utilities to be tied in.

Is there truly enough parking? How does the new (166) compare to what there is now? Will there be an area for overflow parking for large events in Society Hall? Is it truly safe for car-drop-off (or pick-up) students to walk across the bus lane? Is the lot designed for easy traffic flow for cars exiting all at once after an event?

The exact number of new spaces will be worked on as the design evolves. Our goal will be to increase the number if at all feasible. There are currently 170 parking spaces in the three lots attached to the building. Most of these spaces are not used except for the occasional major event. The proposed plan arranges the bus loop and the car loop in such a way that they do not overlap. It also limits the pedestrians to cross in a specific location where a crossing guard can be stationed. Another benefit of centralizing our entrances is that we can consolidate the supervision during pick-up/drop-off which is currently spread across our campus, increasing the supervision in the needed areas.

Will any materials from the existing building be used?

There are some features of the school that we would like to find ways to reuse if possible. One of the benefits of the proposed project is that it can be built without disrupting the current school. The student’s life at school has been disrupted too much in recent years and we hope to limit the disruption from the construction as much as possible. This will limit the amount of material which is installed in the new building that we will be able to move over to the new building. Many parts of the existing building were areas of the school which had been designated as “needing replacement” anyway.

What is the HVAC plan? What are the plans for ventilation and air filtration, to address Covid and other air quality issues?

While the current building does offer some fresh air ventilation, it doesn’t meet the current requirements and certainly falls short when Covid is concerned, causing us to keep windows and doors open over the past year to augment the systems in place. The new building will meet all current code requirements for fresh air intake into the building. Much higher efficiency mechanical systems with proper air filtration will be utilized as well. We expect these new systems will offer a much higher level of indoor air quality than is available in the current school.

Do donor funds provide for the additional utility expenses?

As it turns out, this new building will only be slightly larger than the current building. Current building codes require us to use much higher performing building materials, insulation, and mechanical systems than the existing building has. LED lighting and efficient plumbing fixtures will be used throughout as well. We have not done an energy study yet but there is a good chance that this new building will be cheaper to run from a utility standpoint than the existing building.

Who will be the building contractor?

This will be determined later in the process.

Will there be a lunchroom? I understand that a cafeteria is probably not doable with the size of our school. But a separate space for them to lunch in? Would be helpful to change the kids’ scenery for a bit as well as give the teachers a real break for lunch.

As you say, a cafeteria is not something we see as a practical piece of our program. Each time we have looked at options for lunch other than brown-bagging them, the price for the parents has made the option not something that was feasible. In our interviews with teachers, many of them spoke about the benefits of students eating lunch in their classrooms. They see it as one of the times when community is built for their students. Having the students eat in 16 separate spaces, rather than rotating through a common space, also allows each of the grades to have lunch at the same time, something we have learned over the years is a strength of our program.

Will there be the latest safety features for lockdown capability (such as an escaped convict on campus, active shooter, etc.)? Many public schools have full fencing outside too.

The design of the new building will provide a smarter security layout. For instance, there will be a set of double locking doors at the school entrance and the secretary will control access through them from her location which will have a window between the sets of doors. There will also be a set of double locking doors at the entry to the society building and church offices. There has also been thought put into how to separate the spaces used after school and the rest of the building. As part of this, we anticipate using a remote locking door system.

Will you be pursuing LEED certification or Energy Star for this new building?

While we do want to make sure we are building a healthy and energy responsible building, we don't think spending resources on the bureaucracy of actual certification is a priority. We could look into an Energy Star Certification and the Architects have also mentioned the Passive House rating system (which is not just for residential projects) as another guideline. Another source

suggests construction-related expenses for LEED-certified buildings can increase a project’s cost by about 10 to 30 percent.

What is the plan for the Kling buildings?

The plan was only to save one of the Kling buildings - the primary unit building. The plan for retaining the Kling building was centered around preserving an alternative for BATS.  However, with BATS securing a very exciting alternative on Buck Rd and the potential to save nearly $1M in stabilization costs that would be necessary to save that portion of the building and to avoid major regrading and ground work to get the athletic fields to the proper grade, the decision was made to not preserve the building. Many alternatives were considered, but ultimately, it was determined that the best Community use of the site was to open the land for recreational use.

Would you list all the design features that make this a 100-year school building?


Whole building space planning is one of the things that will be most beneficial for the long term. The existing building evolved over a series of 6 building projects, each with its own sets of restrictions and budgets. Starting over with a blank slate will allow us to recreate many of the things we love while improving on the current layout challenges that are the source of ongoing operational difficulties.

Scalable for growth (add rooms)

The current plan already has several “flex” classrooms that allow for extra space in addition to the normal grade-level classrooms. While current and historic enrollment data does not suggest this will happen, if a significant amount of additional space were to be needed in the future, the three wings could be extended or second stories could theoretically be built.

Materials (durable and maintainable)

Stone, wood, and a metal roof are all building materials and systems that we hope will be included in the new building. While more expensive at first, the durability and long-term value will be appreciated by generations to come.

Affordable (maintenance, other)

Higher efficiency mechanicals heating/cooling, LED lighting, use of daylighting, water-conserving plumbing fixtures, higher insulation values, and durable facade materials will all contribute to lower maintenance and operating costs. Plus the fact that we are not rehabbing an already 70-year-old building sets a solid “foundation” for longevity.

I’m sure you’ve thought a lot about it, but that huge parking lot right in the front… maybe some trees could soften it, if it needs to be there, out in front. Might there be another place to put it, without it being the big first impression?

This is a concern that we certainly have thought about. Your idea of trees (and strategic plantings) is what the architects plan to use to help “hide” the pavement. One advantage of having the parking lot there is that it is largely the location of our current main parking lot. This helps with the overall budget. The design of the lot also allows for very efficient bus and car traffic during drop-off and pick-up. One of the criticisms of the current building is that students enter and leave the building through several locations. We are concerned that moving the parking lot away from the front of the building would inadvertently create multiple entrances again. Its placement also allows us to position the school farther from the road and closer to nature. Lastly, it allows for optimal placement of sports fields and prevents the building from encroaching on the wetlands.

Why are you planning a building to hold the same amount of children as the previous building? This is a wonderful avenue to grow the church.

In the past 30 years, the elementary school has seen its enrollment range from 248 to 375. Over the past 15 years, our numbers have remained fairly steady between around 250 and 300. By being designed in a similar size as our current building we are confident that the new building will not only be able to serve a student body similar in size to the current trend but could also if need be, fit a student body as large as 375. The new design will also include several flex classrooms that could be utilized in different ways if the enrollment did reach that height.

What is the plan for the Powell House?

Since the Powell House is not included in this project there are no plans for it at this time.

Could another Capital Campaign get started to support other aspects of this project and rehabbing the Powell House?*

At this point, we are not looking to start a new capital campaign. Our priority is to complete this project within budget while meeting our other fundraising goals, such as Annual Fund, Offertory, Student Financial Aid, etc.

Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop Questions

*Updated answers as of 2/8/23
What is the timeline, when will the new building be completed?*

The BATS group, currently being led by Brenna Synnestvedt and Jim Adams, has been working diligently with the Borough and their Contractor.  Plans have been generated and they are currently working to finalize the details for the new building.  Currently, the plan is for BATS to close on April 1, 2023. The dismantling of the current building will begin on May 8 and continue until the end of May.

Will the leadership at BATS be consulted about what they need in a new space?

Yes, Brenna has already been in a number of meetings and will continue to be 100% involved.

Will there be one or two floors?*

The retail space will all be on ground level, there will be a public restroom and the building will be climate controlled. People handling donations outside will no longer be in boiling or freezing temperatures.

How much of the old barn will be used?*

Fortunately, BATS will be able install some of the current barn elements such as some wall boards, floorboards and beams in the new barn as decorative elements. Many of the current decorative items (posters, antique farm implements, artful and unique repurposed items, etc.) will be brought forward and displayed in the new barn. There are a number of BATS artifacts that are now for sale. Sorry but we can’t hold any of these items. They will be sold on a first come first serve basis.

Will the new barn be ready before construction starts on the new school building?*

That is our goal. The timeline for building and welcoming you into the new barn is not yet known but it will be months, not years.

In comparison to the existing building, how big will the new space compare?

Current barn and all outbuildings are approximately 13,000 square feet. Depending on zoning regulations, we are planning the same square footage in one barn.

Where will the entrance to the parking lot be?

This will depend on the Zoning requirements. We are also mindful of the placement of the entrance relative to the neighbors across the road.

Will there be handicap accessibility?

Yes, including parking and accessible bathrooms.

Has an architect already been selected?

Yes, we are working with a barn builder architect to develop final plans for the project.