State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Board Reviews Elementary School Project Timeline

by on December 06, 2016 10:30 AM

The State College Area School Board on Monday reviewed the design schedule for the Corl Street, Houserville and Radio Park elementary school construction projects.

At its Nov. 14 meeting, the board voted to move forward with renovations and additions for Corl Street and Radio Park, and new construction for Houserville. Each school will have three classrooms per grade, with an alternate bid for four classrooms per grade at Radio Park. Lemont Elementary will be consolidated with Houserville and the Lemont building repurposed. The total estimated combined cost for all three projects is just under $50 million.

Under the proposed timeline, public forums would be held for reviews of the of the 30 percent design stage on Jan. 10 at Houserville, Jan. 17 at Radio Park, and Jan. 24 at Corl Street.  Forums also would be scheduled at the 60 percent and 90 percent review stages. 

Ed Poprik, SCASD director of physical plant, told the board that the 30 percent design are floor and site plans without including complicated systems that would be difficult to change. So requested changes from the public forums could be incorporated before the Feb. 6 board meeting, when board members vote on the 30 percent plans.

The project timeline calls for final plans to be approved on Sept. 25, 2017 and bids awarded on Nov. 13, 2017. To receive Department of Community and Economic Development grant funds totaling $3.8 million, Houserville and Radio Park must be substantially completed by June 2019. Corl Street, though not bound to the same deadlines, is expected to progress on a similar timeframe. 

Reimbursements for the project through the state's PlanCon program require Act 34 hearings to be scheduled, where specific project information and financial data must be presented. The suggested date for those hearings, which will be advertised and transcribed by a court reporter, is June 13.

The construction projects are the result of a District-wide Facilities Master Plan review begun in the spring and focused on the elementary schools which had not been updated since the 1960s. 

Proposed Preliminary Budget
Business Administrator Randy Brown and Assistant Business Administrator Donna Watson gave the board an update of the 2017-2018 proposed preliminary budget, with a focus on whether to increase the district's real estate tax above the state ceiling of 2.5 percent.

For a rate within the 2.5 percent Act 1 index, the board can have a proposed preliminary budget process beginning Dec. 19 and ending with approval on Feb. 13. Or it can have an accelerated budget opt out resolution before Jan. 26 that states the district will not raise the tax rate by more than the 2.5 percent index.

District administration recommended the accelerated budget opt out because the district is able to fund current operations and proposed programming additions with a tax increase below the index. 

A 2.5 percent increase would add $918,638 in revenue. No tax increase would require $1,499,181 in resources to meet budget expenses. The board may vote on an option on Dec. 19.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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