G-A School Board OKs $28.5 million construction project

PAT FRIDGEN
The school campus is in for some changes under a plan forwarded by the school board.

A $28.5 million building project got the green light Nov. 4, with the Greencastle-Antrim School District school board directing EI Associates to prepare two documents for the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

PlanCon A justifies the construction project and PlanCon B shows the schematic design for the Connector Addition and Alterations for the high school and middle school.

With a unanimous tally, the district took the next step in the school upgrade plan, each of which must be approved by the board.  Members Joel Fridgen, Brian Hissong, Paul Politis, Howard Ritchey, Mike Shindle, Arnie Jansen, Kristy Faulkner, William Thorne and Eric Holtzman supported the most expensive option, which did not require the largest increase in the mill rate.

Architect Mark Barnhart explained how the projects were affected by state reimbursement.

A $21 million project with limited new construction would generate $3.1 million back from the state, and raise taxes 8.22 mills.

A $24.5 million project with more renovations would yield $12.5 million in reimbursement and a mill rate of 7.86.

Another $28.5 million plan was dropped because its mill rate would be 8.51, while the one selected, with its energy efficient upgrades, would result in $19 million in reimbursement and an 8.19 mill increase.

The board decided the mechanical upgrades meeting LEED standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designs) were worth it. Some of the equipment would be more expensive upfront, but could save substantial money annually in energy consumption in the ‘green’ schools.

Business manager Richard Lipella urged repairing and replacing the mechanical systems in the project, as they would be more expensive to fix piecemeal and would then not be eligible for reimbursement.

The board also approved the design for putting artificial turf on Kaley Field and resurfacing the six-lane track, and to seek an alternate bid for a north turf practice field. The vote was 8-1 with Holtzman opposed. He preferred the athletic complex be funded through a capital campaign.

The stadium upgrade was tagged at $1.08 million. With the second field it was $1.83 million, and with lighting $2.08 million.

EI’s fees to prepare the PlanCon and field documents were $200,000 and $12,000, respectively. When active construction was underway, Barnhart said the fee was six percent of the bid amounts.

Greg McLanahan from Public Financial Management submitted a financial analysis of the district to determine the best funding method for the building project. The board will address the specifics later, but Lipella said the 1.6 mills the board could levy under the index cap would not even cover the expected increase in operating costs next year.