Montour awaits approval for school plans

New school depends on two key votes

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Montour’s plan to build a $55 million elementary school hinges on township and school board votes.

Robinson commissioners are scheduled to consider the school’s site plan Monday, and a school board vote on construction bids is planned around late summer.

The Robinson planning commission voted 5-0 on April 16 to recommend approval, said chairman Rick Urbano, the township planning director.

The school district is scheduled to award contracts this month for site preparation work and to seek construction bids in July, superintendent Donald Boyer said.

“When the bids are back, that’s when you vote on the building,” Mr. Boyer told the school board last Thursday.

The upcoming approval process also includes public hearings and approvals from the state Department of Education, he said.

Mark DiClemente, who joined the school board in January, said he is concerned about the success of the elementary school project, which already has cost the district money for design and other preparation work.

“We’re spending millions of dollars without a vote,” Mr. DiClemente said. “My confidence level is at zero that we will hit a home run with this elementary school.”

Montour school board members have voted multiple times on the elementary construction project, including approvals to submit plans to the state Department of Education and to accept subsequent approvals from the agency.

The district enrolls about 950 elementary students from Ingram, Kennedy, Pennsbury Village, Robinson and Thornburg.

The planned elementary building site is the sports field area in a valley south of the athletic center on the 110-acre high school campus on Clever Road in Robinson.

The site will be filled with dirt and leveled prior to construction. Some fill and topsoil will come from dirt removed during an ongoing project to construct a second driveway on campus.

“We’re comfortable 100 percent that the land is going to hold our new school?” Mr. DiClemente asked last week.

Mr. Boyer replied, “According to the experts that we paid to do the geological studies, yes.”

Architectural Innovations LLC of Ross presented design plans to the school board in 2012 for a two-story, 155,000-sqaure-foot school to house all of the district’s kindergarten through fourth grade pupils, plus a new preschool program.

Opening is anticipated early in the 2015-16 school year.

Robinson elementary schools Burkett and Forest Grove would be closed. Ingram Elementary School closed in 2012.

Darrell Young, who joined the school board in January, asked the superintendent for a table of updates on ongoing and proposed construction in the district, including the elementary project.

"I don't think there's any proactive sharing of information with the board,” he said.

Board member Dean Caliguire said before starting new construction, the district should ensure completion of remaining tasks at the athletic center such as a roof leak and an unpaved parking lot and update computers and software in the schools.

Some items related to the athletic center are in arbitration, Mr. Boyer said. The $16.8 million center opened a year ago on the high school campus.

Mr. Caliguire, along with Mr. DiClemente and Mr. Young, recently formed a school board technology committee.

“[The district is] worried about building new buildings … but the nuts and bolts and everything, what really comes down to educating our kids, is on the peripheral,” Mr. Caliguire said.

Mr. Boyer disagreed, pointing out the district’s successes with increasing test scores and installing electronic whiteboards and projectors in all of the classrooms.

Andrea Iglar, freelance writer:

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