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

School Board Addresses Safety & Budget Concerns in High School Renovation Project

by on August 13, 2013 6:55 AM

The State College Area School Board of Directors cleared up safety and budget concerns regarding the State College High School renovation project at its meeting Monday Night.

Most board members were on board with the idea of building an enclosed bridge that would go across Westerly Parkway, connecting the North and South buildings. Board member Dorothea Stahl said an enclosed bridge would be much safer than the other options of a non-enclosed bridge or a walkway between the two buildings.

"It's not that children don't know how to cross the street," She said. "It's the fact that your letting children out of our building, out of sight."

Board member Jim Pawelczyk, however, disagreed with telling architects Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates that the enclosed bridge is the direction the board wants to go in, as it is too early to judge whether it is the best decision. Pawelczyk said that a major factor in the development of the bridge is how many times a student would actually walk over the bridge.

Matt Harlow, engineer with Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, said a bridge would minimally have to span 90 feet to reach between the two buildings.

In regards to budgetary concerns, John Beddia, director of operations at Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, said there are two options – The developers can get a certain budget at first and operate within those means, or have the board tell them what they want and then make up a cost estimate.

Stahl said she would want to start with deciding what is best for the school district first and go from there.

"It wouldn't work if we said 'we have $90 million, try to cram as much as you can into 90 million," she said. " We would spend more time answering the question of 'why did they come up with a number first rather than look at what would be the best school?' Our job is to get the high school that is best for the student population for the next 50 to 70 years."

Pawelczyk again disagreed with Stahl, saying that there will be a discrepancy between what the community is going to support with the project and what the project costs.

The board is still considering two concepts for the renovations. The first, Concept B, which would include additions and renovations to the existing North and South Buildings with a walkway connecting the two buildings.

The other option, Concept D, would include major renovations to the South building so that core classes could all be held on the same side of the street. Concept D would also have portions of the North building retained for student and community use.

 Community forums are scheduled on Aug. 13 and Sept. 11. Each forum will be held in the High School South auditorium at 7 p.m., with a guided tour of the High School facilities starting at 5:30 p.m. A plan for improving the educational model of the buildings will be presented on Aug. 26.

Director of the State College Area School District Office of Physical Plant Ed Poprik also notified the board Monday night that his office has completed its goal of having the first football practices on Memorial Field before Aug. 12. When State College High School plays its first home football game on Sept. 6., all of the bleacher seats will be open. However, the sidewalk along Fraser Street will not be completed in time for the home opener.

State College Area School District Robert O'Donnell also addressed the recent graffiti found at Radio Park Elementary School. O'Donnell said the school district is working closely with the State College Police Department to find out how the graffiti got there in the first place, and that anyone with any information on the graffiti should contact police, not the school district.

Adam Lidgett is a freelance reporter who has covered news and feature stories in State College and Centre County.
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