Penn-Trafford considers additions to high school renovation project

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Although final bids for the proposed renovation of Penn-Trafford High School won’t be in until spring, school board members are looking to add to the project if costs come in lower than anticipated.

Late last year, the board approved the renovation project, which is expected to cost about $32 million. The board decided to fund the project by borrowing an additional $10 million, which it will add to the $9.4 million bond it approved in 2012.

The district will borrow the remaining money for the project after the total cost is determined. It will advertise for bids in April and is expected to award contracts in May, according to Daniel D. Kiefer, director of preconstruction for Massaro CM Services, the district’s project construction manager.

Planners, however, appear to be confident that the district’s allotment of $32 million will be more than enough to cover the basics, so the district is considering expanding the project.

The current proposed renovations at the high school, located along Route 130 in Harrison City, are expected to include updated heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems; additional science labs; and auditorium and library upgrades. Plans also call for the addition of 66 parking spaces and improvements to the cafeteria and kitchen equipment.

At its meeting Monday, the district presented the board with a prioritized list of 10 additions to the project that could be selected if money is available.

“We may have between 5 to 10 percent leftover” after the final bids come in, said Scott Inglese, high school principal. “We could be talking about $1.6 million to $3.2 million.”

Topping the list of possible additions, he said, is the building of a high school annex, which would include a new maintenance facility, storage area for 12 district vehicles, additional pool deck space, larger pool locker rooms, public restrooms, a new fitness center for students and the public, a regulation gymnasium with seating for 100 spectators, and more physical education/athletic storage.

The cost for the annex is anticipated at about $3.5 million.

Other additions include stadium restrooms to be located behind the press box, $273,000; new boilers, $457,620; a new gravel access road and site lighting, $46,924; and a pool heater, $58,350.

The list also included two additional tennis courts and parking, $193,988; a library skylight, $150,000; replacement of light fixtures, $769,432; a roof upgrade, $17,638; and new parking and lighting at the baseball field, $369,479.

While he said he was pleased with the district’s renovation plans, Dave Babik, high school swim coach and biology teacher, asked the board to make the high school swimming pool a priority, which he said often is “an embarrassment” to students and athletes.

“Some teams have refused to compete against Penn-Trafford because they believe the pool is unsafe,” said Mr. Babik, who noted that the walls are falling in, the ceilings are too low and some floor tiles are so deteriorated that students often cut their feet on them.

Residents Marty Grabowski and Lauren McDonough said they believe the first priority should be an additional gymnasium. Both are parents of young basketball players and said it is difficult for the athletes to get practice time.

The renovation project will be split into nine phases over a three-year period. Completion is expected in fall 2016, Mr. Kiefer said.

In other business, the board approved makeup days for Jan. 7, when the district was closed due to weather, and Jan. 8, when it was closed because of bus problems. Students will now report to school on Monday and on Feb. 17, which had been designated as days off.

Linda Metz, freelance writer:

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