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

someone unhappy.

Kindergarten plan

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

middle school.

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