Board to act soon on school renovations

PAT FRIDGEN

Mark Barnhart from EI Associates returned to the Greencastle-Antrim school board June 3 with a revised plan on what $21 million could do for the district's renovation plans.

"This is a conceptual, pre-schematic design," he said. "It's an analysis of your needs based on a cost parameter."

The plan provided 22 additional classrooms, six in the middle school and 16 in the high school. The two schools would be connected with an east and a west wing. A performing arts center in the auditorium would get a balcony for up to 500 more seats. Food services would be upgraded with new dining and kitchen areas and a food court. District administration offices would move from the elementary school to the secondary schools. Fifty parking spaces would be added along the back of the middle school.

EI dropped a new media center, formerly called a library. Out as well were the field house, gym, walking track, wrestling room, locker and team rooms, and four classrooms.

"We'd be in really good shape with the number of classrooms they put in here," said superintendent C. Gregory Hoover. "This is reimbursable from the state, about 25 percent, because it's mostly classrooms."

The board considered stadium renovations, estimated at $1.8 million for two turf fields and track resurfacing. It decided to separate out that project, as well as the media center, in order to seek bids separately for each.

Hoover asked the board what they wanted to do with the information. The timeframe for moving forward meant six to nine months to get ready for bidding, then another 18 months of construction.

"We need to do it," said Paul Politis. "Let's get on with it."

Joel Fridgen said the building project addressed needs for the next five years, and after that new businesses in the area could help with the tax load to finance it and the other projects in the original $54 million three-phase renovation plan.

The board will likely vote on the construction plan at the June 17 meeting, and Hoover said that was the best time for the public to present its views. By the time a formal public hearing is held in three to six months as mandated by Act 34, much effort and money would have been expended on the final plans, with less chance of making major changes, he said.

Business manager Richard Lipella said the first phase could mean a three to six mill increase over two years, depending on the type of financing obtained.