Board in Waynesboro backs $40 million school renovation plan

September 14, 2005|by DON AINES

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Waynesboro Area School Board on Tuesday directed architects to begin the design and development phase on the most expensive of three options presented last month for renovating the high school, a $40 million plan that adds on a new gymnasium and auditorium.

The plan would place the gym, auditorium and classrooms for a ninth-grade academy in a new wing. The existing auditorium would become a media center and library and convert the old gym to instructional space, according to Mark S. Barnhardt, senior vice president of EI Associates of Harrisburg, Pa.

Barnhardt told the board the Pennsylvania Department of Education will grant the district a waiver on its 20-year reimbursement policy. State reimbursement is normally allowed only 20 years after construction or a previous renovation.


According to the firm's figures, reimbursement could be $11.6 million or more, but Board President Larry Glenn said the final figure will be determined further along in the planning process.

EI Associates can have renovation plans ready in about two months and, if the board approves, the project could go out for bids next spring with construction starting in June 2006, Barnhardt said.

On that schedule, the project could be completed in two years, he said.

"I can see how these projects snowball," said board member Todd Rock. The $40 million option leaves the district with no money to improve other schools, he said.

Board member Leland Lemley said the least expensive option, $24 million to renovate the existing building and add ninth-grade academy classrooms, will bring the school up to current codes.

Barnhardt said those standards would reduce auditorium and gymnasium seating in order to bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The $40 million plan expands seating for the gym and auditorium to 1,600 seats, he said.

Board member Stanley Barkdoll said he did not favor "anything resembling a Band-Aid solution" for the school. The $40 million plan, he said, "frees up a lot of space in the existing building."

No vote was required for the design and development authorization, Glenn said. Lemley said the plan's supporters have the votes needed in any event.

The real estate tax impact of the plan will be up to 12.9 mills by 2009-10, according to Gregg McLanahan of Public Financial Management Inc.

Superintendent Barry Dallara called that a "worst-case scenario," saying steps taken by the board to set aside money for construction could lessen the increase.

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