QCSD, BucksIU accomplish shared mission

Following fire, QCSD and the BucksIU worked effectively to find classroom space for children.
Posted on 02/07/2020
Deb Lock, Director of Early Childhood Programs for the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, speaks with PBS39 reporter Hayden Mitman in one of the Sixth Grade Center classrooms being used by IU students.By Gary Weckselblatt

A reporter from PBS-39 visited the Sixth Grade Center Thursday to learn about the partnership between the Bucks County Intermediate Unit and Quakertown Community School District following a devastating fire at the Upper County Early Learning Center that displaced 80 young students.

Hayden Mitman interviewed QCSD Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner, BCIU Executive Director Dr. Mark Hoffman, Dr. Deb Lock, the IU’s Director of Early Childhood Programs, and John D’Angelo, president of both the IU and Bristol Borough School District school boards.

The consensus of school officials following the late afternoon blaze on January 31 was that getting students back to school as soon as possible was paramount. So they met Saturday at the SGC to map out a plan. Tuesday evening they held an Open House for parents and Wednesday students were back in class, either in the SGC or in the District Services Center.

“A large segment of the IU is made up of Upper Bucks students, and some of them will ultimately be coming into our school family,” Dr. Harner said. “Getting them in a proper setting, feeling comfortable and seeing the same faces was something we needed to accomplish.”

Less than two days after the fire, Dr. Harner sent out a Blog to the QCSD community on Sunday, alerting them to the situation. He praised the efforts of his administration, teachers and the IU for working together for the students. “This was a great opportunity to serve,” he said. “A great opportunity for our team to grow and get better. We jumped at it. We loved it and it got done.”

Dr. Lock said the C for community in QCSD “was brought to life” in a very special way. Dr. Lock, a former district principal, said “there is definitely a community feel to this project. Everyone was very focused on getting us up and running. We don’t want to disrupt the Sixth Grade Center any more than we have to. Teachers have been very gracious. We’re really thankful.”

The 80 students expected to call QCSD home for the next month or so are ages 3 to 5 and taught by the IU for Head Start, Pre-K Counts, and Preschool Early Intervention programs.

“We didn’t want them to lose the routine of going to school,” Dr. Hoffman said. “We’re so appreciative of Dr. Harner, (SGC Principal) Mr. Thompson and the school board. They’ve worked tirelessly to make sure we have what we need.”

Mr. D’Angelo, the Board president for the IU and Bristol Borough, said that the Early Learning Center, formerly the Quakertown Christian Academy, is a “great facility. To have it burn to the ground is a huge undertaking and involves so many stakeholders. The response from the school district was very critical for us. The job that did to replicate the other site is tremendous. It’s an incredible turnaround time.”

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or gweckselblatt@qcsd.org.
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