Renovation issues come before the board
An electrical engineer working with EI Architects reported to
Greencastle-Antrim School Board March 3 that some power updating was
necessary before any renovation work could begin on the school campus. Bill
Fleischer from Moore Engineering in Lancaster said he wanted to replace the
main switchgear between the middle and high schools over the summer and
asked that the project be pulled out for separate bidding.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education was already aware of the need and
approved, since the upgrade was not reimbursable from the state.
"The transformer is past its useful life anyway," said Fleischer.
Because power would be off for a day or two, he preferred to do the work in
the summer rather than the school year. The cost to relocate the switch was
$500,000 and another $100,000 for the fiberoptics.
The board also learned about financing options on the building project from
Greg McLanahan, Public Financial Management Group, Harrisburg. In 2006 the
school directors had incurred but did not issue $33 million in bonds, which
allowed future boards leeway in not being constrained by Act 1, he said. If
the building project went forward, both connecting the secondary schools and
upgrading the stadium, the $30.8 million expense was therefore covered.
McLanahan had seen a spike in interest rates since September. "Hopefully
they will fall again to be more accomodating."
In response to a query on the risk to taxpayers if the renovations were
delayed, he replied that the most obvious was that rates would go up. They
might also go down in a double-dip recession or from "an oil price shock. We
just don't know."
Two citizens spoke on the tax impact of the building project. Jerry Lute
asked the board to stop the "tax and spend attitude", since many people had
not raises in three years. Maybe the district could do a partial renovation
without a big tax increase, and maybe people would step forward to raise
funds for certain elements, just as they had in Tuscarora, he said. Curt
Gipe had misgivings on the plan for artifcial turf, even though last year he
had addressed the board on the poor condition of the field hockey fields.
Turf appeared to be a luxury, he said, even though grass fields would
deteriorate since there was no water available for irrigation, and to do
nothing would put players at risk. He added that any decision would make
Primary school principal Angela Singer explained a plan for the start of All
Day Kindergarten in 2011, which would be the fourth year for the program.
Since school was often quite overwhelming for first-time students, the
teachers had developed a plan to make the transition easier and to also aid
the staff. They would be able to spend more one-on-one time with each child
to conduct educational assessments.
The proposal was to stagger the start dates for the first week. Half of each
class would attend on Monday and Wednesday, the other half on Tuesday and
Thursday. Every child would be in school on Friday. The change would not
incur any expense to the district.
"I think it's a great concept and I fully support the kindergarten teachers
for coming up with this," Singer said.
Athletic director Vicki Ritchey responded to questions brought up at the
previous meeting about the track program. It now had one head coach, instead
of one for boys and one for girls, and several assistant coaches. Their days
of service varied on their availability. She expected a large turnout,
between 75 to 100 athletes at the high school level, and 60 to 90 in the
In other business, authorizing the school to advertise for a five-year
contract for the high school yearbook beginning with the 2010-2011 term,
brought some discord. Joel Fridgen and Kristy Faulkner favored a one-year
contract, since the only company that ever bid was well into production on
the current book, and they didn't see that a competitor could come in and
take it over midstream. They wanted a five-year contract addressed next
No administrator could explain why the matter had not been brought to the
board much earlier, since the contract expired last June.
Members Eric Holtzman, Melinda Cordell, Howard Ritchey, Mike Shindle, Paul
Politis, Brian Hissong and William Thorne supported a five-year contract