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'Plan B' for JBHS would cost $17M

April 06, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- The Tuscarora School District agreed to move forward Monday with a renovation "Plan B" for James Buchanan High School that will cost about half of the $35 million voters said was too much in November.

In a 7-1 vote Monday, with new board member Kenneth Nolen dissenting, the board gave architect Crabtree Rohrbaugh & Associates of Mechanicsburg, Pa., the green light to draft a formal contract for a $17 million renovation plan that the board will vote on in May.

The plan recommended to the board was not without significant compromises, said Architect Hal Hart of Crabtree Rohrbaugh & Associates.

Hart presented the board with three options of the plan, all which came close to the $16 million threshold set by an administrative committee.

Each option omitted the pricey upgrades to athletic facilities, external site work and replacement of food service equipment, Hart said. The three options also downgraded from geothermal heating system to a roof-top variable-air-volume system.

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When a committee of parents, grandparents, teachers and coaches came forward in December to shoulder the cost of upgrades to high school athletic facilities, Hart said it took a big bite out of the renovation costs.

But it was still not enough to please the committee of administrators and residents.

"When the committee came back with a $16 million total project cost limit, I was thinking 'we can't do it,'" he said. "To include everything but the stadium and pool we were looking at $21.4 million."

The plan, known Monday as "Option A," included major mechanical and electrical upgrades, a new roof, new gym bleachers, new auditorium seating, new plumbing and a security vestibule entrance to the school.

While the other options Hart presented had lower price tags, committee member Harold Brake said with building costs at all-time lows, option A was favorable.

"Option C is the best cost, but option A is the best value. Even if $13 million (for option C) appears cheaper it is not as cheap as it sounds," Brake said.

Option C only included renovating half the school, with the rest left to the discretion of Stanley Morgan, director of facility operations. Option B was a bit reduced from option A.

While most of the committee members who spoke favored option A, Nolen said he disagreed.

"With upcoming rise in electricity, option A is nice but at the same token there are mandates coming our way that we have no option out of," he said. "Option C is our only option."

The board agreed to move forward and will make a final decision on the plan at its May meeting.

Earlier that evening the board approved repairing and replacing the aging roofs on St. Thomas Elementary and James Buchanan Middle School.

The board voted 8-0 to repair the two roofs at a combined price of up to $3.38 million, according to estimates by Tremco Inc. of Airville, Pa.

Tremco Field Advisor Michael Cromwell said the roof of St. Thomas Elementary was "just shot."

"A few days after a rain and it's still a lake," he said. "It has been ignored."

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