Shelved Greencastle-Antrim school renovation plans to be revisited

March 05, 2013|By ROXANN MILLER |

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — The Greencastle-Antrim School District is running out of space, forcing school officials to take another look at renovation plans that were shelved two years ago while the economy was in a nosedive.

Superintendent C. Gregory Hoover said taking a serious look at the renovation plans is inevitable because the district is bursting at the seams.

“It’s one of those things that we have been putting off because of the economy. But, kids are still coming and there have to be places for them to go,” he said.

“We certainly are running out of room. Storage areas are literally used as educational spaces,” Hoover said.

A former storage area is being used as an ESL (English as a second language) classroom in the elementary school, he said.

Not only is every nook and cranny being used, but Hoover said the available space is being stretched to the limit with some of the largest class sizes in district history.

If growth continues, he said the district will be forced to use modular units to take care of the overflow.

On Thursday, the school board will vote on whether to authorize Noelker and Hull Associates Inc. to move forward with developing renovation plans for the middle and high schools.

Hoover said hiring the Chambersburg firm would cost under $10,000.

“At this stage of the game, it isn’t an astronomical amount of money,” Hoover said. “Even if we don’t grow anymore, we’re going to need some renovations.”

If there are too many computers running at the same time in the middle school, Hoover said the electricity shuts down.

He said the boilers in the middle school were installed when the building opened and need replaced because they are not energy efficient.

But, the place that is really hurting are the school cafeterias.

“They were designed for 200 kids, and we are running 300 kids through there,” Hoover said.

He said the district has a debt service on two buildings coming due in 2016 and 2017 that will free up $2 million a year to reinvest into facilities.

Initially, the renovation plan presented to the board in 2009 by EI Associates topped out at $54 million and was whittled down to $21 million.

Hoover said whether the district would receive reimbursement from the state for a renovation project is not known.

“No one knows what the state is going to do. Right now they have somewhat frozen their reimbursement, and they are reimbursing some schools that are already in the pipeline,” Hoover said.

“They are not taking any more projects, but we have already submitted the project into PDE (Pennsylvania Department of Education) so we are technically in,” he said. “But, what they have been doing is giving out a certain amount of money each year toward reimbursement.”

Thursday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the middle school library.

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