District selects firm for high school remodeling project

October 09, 2007|By DON AINES

MERCERSBURG, PA. - The Tuscarora School District will go with the same architectural firm that is tackling the expansion and renovation of Chambersburg Area Senior High School to do preliminary design work on a similar project for James Buchanan High School.

The school board voted unanimously Monday night to authorize the administration to enter into a contract with Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates of Mechanicsburg, Pa., for the project, which a feasibility study estimates will cost in excess of $20 million. Five companies had submitted proposals to the district, four of which were interviewed recently, Superintendent Rebecca Erb said.

A contract with Crabtree, Rohrbaugh likely will be approved at the Nov. 5 board meeting, Erb said. Among the firms that submitted proposals was EI Associates, which had done design work for the James Buchanan Middle School renovation and two elementary schools as well as the feasibility study regarding the high school, she said.


"We received very positive feedback" from Crabtree, Rohrbaugh clients, Erb said.

The architectural firm is designing the $73.8 million CASHS project in the Chambersburg Area School District, as well as the new Fayetteville Elementary School that opened in August and the new U.L. Gordy Elementary due to open in 2009.

"This will take us up to referendum," Erb said of the work Crabtree, Rohrbaugh will do under the terms of the $25,000 contract. The school district will have to come up with a price tag for the project and put it before district voters for their approval, she said.

Under Act 1, Pennsylvania's school property tax reform law, each district has to keep tax increases below an inflation index assigned to them by the state. If a proposed budget exceeds that figure and does not have enough qualifying exclusions under the law, it has to be put before voters.

It is too early to say whether the project will be far enough along to place a referendum question on the April 2008 primary ballot, Erb said.

The 35-year-old school is showing its age, particularly its water system, pool and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, according to a high school building committee report earlier this year.

In June, Principal Rodney Benedick said home tennis matches have been played at Mercersburg Academy because of the deteriorating tennis courts at the high school and the track team has not had a home meet in years.

The building committee also noted the pool's pipes are in poor condition and sediment in the drinking water was an issue.

The district is anticipating adding classroom space to the building to accommodate moderate growth, Erb said. The school has about 850 students this year, she said.

On another building issue, several parents of students at Mercersburg Elementary School asked the board to do something about the heat in the school, which is not air-conditioned. One parent said classroom temperatures during this unseasonably warm fall have been in the upper 80s and higher, exacerbating health problems and making it difficult for students to learn.

"It can be as frustrating to us as it is to you" because of cost issues and the required state approvals, Board President Jane Rice told the parents. Air-conditioning the building would cost more than $1 million, Erb said.

The company will be examining the school to see what improvements can be made to the ventilation system in the short-term, Erb said.

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