The Moon Area School Board voted Monday night to toss out all contracts related to current plans for the $76.5 million middle and high schools project. Instead it will pursue a more ambitious course of action that includes a new middle school, renovations and a reopening on the elementary-school front and a new price tag of up to $95 million.
Board president Mark Limbruner explained that the current "contracts have been disavowed. They are no longer in effect and will not be recognized by the current school board."
Opposing board member Mark Scappe, meanwhile, warned that a citizens' group may file an injunction against the motion. An embittered Mr. Scappe also predicted that the district will be sued by contractors and suppliers who signed on to the initial plan.
"This is something that will take the school district 20 years to recover from," he said.
The board's latest motion calls for construction of a new middle school, renovation and possible addition to the current high school, a reopening of McCormick Elementary School and renovations to the other elementary schools.
Until the Monday vote, plans had called for a new high school and conversion of the current high school into a middle school. The project has been an extremely divisive issue since its adoption two years ago.
Board member Ben Bonham said the work could be done for $95 million -- substantially more than the $76.5 million approved for the middle and high school building and renovation. But Mr. Limbruner said he was confident that the project could be completed for "significantly less."
Mr. Limbruner would not speculate on a time frame for when work would begin, but said that a search for architects would start immediately.
Board member Mark Scappe said that he felt betrayed by the board's action, which resulted in a typically divided 5-4 vote.
"They sandbagged us," Mr. Scappe said. "It was very deceitful."
Mr. Scappe said that at last Thursday's meeting of the board's facilities committee, a resolution was crafted that seemed to be a compromise between the two competing factions -- the board minority who favored the existing plan, led by Mr. Scappe, and the board majority who have wanted to scrap the plan since they were voted into office in November.
Dan Gigler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 724-375-6815.