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Renovation 'Plan B' explored for James Buchanan High in Mercersburg

October 28, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

In continuing discussions about the so-called "Plan B" renovation of James Buchanan High School, the Tuscarora School Board on Monday evening agreed to stick with an earlier architect and talk to that firm about the cost of bare essential repairs.

Superintendent Rebecca E. Erb said she reached out to Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates earlier in the day to find out what $18 million could do at the 36-year-old building.

The architect returned with a rough estimate of $20.6 million just to meet building code and address structural and mechanical concerns. That project could receive about 25 percent reimbursement from the state.

"These are really very rough figures," Erb said.

"I think the pencil needs to be sharpened to get down to $18 million," said school board member Kenneth Nolen.

More than 72 percent of voters were against spending $35 million to renovate the high school when asked in a special election Sept. 9. That amount would have raised taxes about $283 for the average homeowner, assuming the average house has a market value of $186,000.

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Now, the school board and administrators are putting together a 25-person community group to scale back the project.

Stanley Morgan addressed the board to talk about his first three weeks in the district as facilities director.

"We know there's a problem with the quality of the water. There's a lot of sediment in the water," he said.

Morgan said he collected samples to be analyzed to determine the type of sediment, although the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently concluded the brown water is not harmful for consumption.

Also, Morgan said he lowered the cost of installing six security cameras from $17,000 to $1,000 by using an existing monitor, obtaining a free video hard drive and setting up a self-installation process that involves two students. He's also working with a citizens group to get the pool locker rooms repaired so that they can be reopened.

A survey about the high school's renovation needs and information about signing up for the community committee will soon be disseminated through the superintendent's newsletter. Information also will soon be available at www.tus.k12.pa.us and at the district office.

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