Letter to the Editor: SCASD Facilities Update from Dr. Robert O'Donnell
Our community has always demonstrated high regard and support for quality educational experiences for all students. Children in our community spend 13 years in our schools and receive a high level of instruction and care from our faculty and staff.
While these school buildings have served us well, several of our facilities need significant repairs/upgrades. In the coming months, our district will be asking for community engagement and support to help us tackle these facility challenges. The information below is an update regarding our most current facility discussions, including the high school, other school buildings and Memorial Field.
The most significant facility need is modernizing our high school. This fall, we look forward to engaging the community in the high school discussion, including developing options and identifying potential revenue sources. All community engagement opportunities will be posted on our web site (www.scasd.org) and other local sources.
Our Board recently named Crabtree Rohrbaugh and Associates Architects to develop a schematic design for the high school. This firm has a proven history of building/renovating high quality schools at a very competitive cost. These architects will work in conjunction with a professional educational planner to develop a model that is most responsive to our current and future students.
The next step is to evaluate qualified candidates who have submitted proposals. The selected firms will be scheduled for a round of interviews to take place in mid-late August that will be open to the public and broadcast on CNET. Following the interview process and deliberation, a recommendation for the educational planner selection will come to the board in September.
All major building projects from this point on will require permission from the community via a public voting process. Because the school referendum process is new to Pennsylvania, we will communicate more details to our community throughout the 2012-13 school year. A successful voter referendum must pass before project funding will be allocated.
In addition to our high school, our district will continue evaluation and discussion regarding Radio Park, Houserville, Lemont, Corl Street and Fairmount Avenue schools. These projects are identified in our current district wide facilities master plan.
Memorial Field is also a district-owned facility in need of repair. While our Board has considered a major renovation to this structure, only the most critical elements of repair and maintenance are currently being planned. Safety and security of student-athletes, coaches and fans is of utmost importance to our district.
In order to keep this venue in safe and playable condition for practices and competitions, the following work is recommended beginning at the conclusion of the fall 2012 athletic season: full repair of the west side bleachers, including the retaining wall; replacement of the artificial turf playing surface, installed in 2003 with a life expectancy of about eight years; address drainage and water runoff issues.
Our district is also exploring less costly locker room facilities, as we currently do not have locker room facilities for this venue.
Submitted by Dr. Robert O'Donnell, Superintendent of the State College Area School District