Costs given for possible school building projects

Shawn Hardy news@echo-pilot.com

Members of the Greencastle-Antrim School Board got an overview of potential building projects and their associated costs at Thursday evening's meeting.

"I just saw the numbers for the first time at 4 p.m.," Dr. Kendra Trail, superintendent, said. "This is just part of the process, we're in the very early stages. We put all our wants and needs on the table and may need to scale back."

Based on information gathered from administrators, teachers, staff, students and others during the past year, John Beddia, a principal with the architectural firm Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates discussed additions and renovations at each of the district's four buildings with total costs in the $50 million range. The numbers include the building projects themselves and things like site work and furniture.

Future steps include setting priorities and establishing goals for zero to two years, two to five years and five to 10 years.

"It's going to be tough. These are all needs, there's no fluff here," commented board member Pat Fridgen.

Beddia said he will follow up with administrators, look at more details, refine designs and do more detailed estimates.

Trail said she hopes there will be a motion in April or May concerning how the board wants to move forward so everyone knows what is going on by the end of the fiscal year.

Space constraints have been a major theme in the facilities review, including administrative offices, collaborative learning and specials classes. The pinch has seen closets turned into instructional space and storage moved to hallways and stairs in some buildings.

Where to start has not been established, but Trail has said in the past that she thinks "the primary school will rise to the top."

Beddia outlined two scenarios for the primary and elementary schools.

One would have separate projects with renovations and additions to each building. The estimated costs for the primary are $10.7 to $12 million and $6 million to $6.9 million for the elementary, totaling $16.7 to $19 million.

Another option, which got a significant good response from teachers who responded to a survey, features an addition linking the two buildings. The projected price tag of $21.4 to $24.4 million would include a road looping around the building to address parking and drop-off concerns.

Ballpark figures for additions and renovations at the other two buildings are middle school, $13.3 million to $14.7 million; and high school, $16.2 million to $17.9 million.

"You've given us a lot to think about," said Mike Still, board president.