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School Board Adds Fitness Center, Wrestling Gym To High School Plan

by on April 27, 2015 11:58 PM

If you ask State College area school district resident Jennifer McDonough, an optimal school promotes education of the mind, body, and spirit.

After Monday night's school board meeting, there will be more of an emphasis on the second of those three areas in the the high school renovation project. 

The board unanimously voted to make a fitness center and auxiliary wrestling gymnasium part of the "base bid budget." The board was previously considering those items as "add alternates," meaning they weren't required to be included in the project. 

Three Ferguson Township residents spoke out in favor of the change, just hours after the school's athletic booster club sent the board a letter urging the inclusion of those facilities.

"I was surprised and disappointed when I saw those were being considered alternate, which says that we believe they would somehow be nice, but not needed," McDonough says. "I don’t believe there should be a choice. Those facilities should be a required component in any school."

The mother of three adds she has seen the benefit to both students and the community from modern physical education and fitness facilities at other districts. 

In addition to fitness-related discussions, the board heard an update on the high school project planning process from the director of physical plant Ed Poprik. He informed the board of some adjustments to the calendar for the remainder of the planning process.

The original plan called for the 60 percent plan to be accepted April 27, with the 90 percent phase running through June 22, followed by the bid phase, and ending with bid awards and the start of construction on July 27. The 60 percent plan will now be accepted May 11, and bids will not be awarded until September 19.

Some board members expressed concerns over the plan falling behind schedule, but Board member Dorothea Stahl is more focused on getting everything done right than being on time.

"We’re on a tight timeline, but we’re really on a 50-year timeline here," she says. "We can’t have a 50-year mistake or shortcoming, so we need to respect that and do it right. We need to keep putting eyes on this to ensure we don't make any big mistakes."

Board member Scott Fozard agrees, but warns that a mistake is inevitable in such a vast project.

"That thing is going to come up, but we have to hope it’s a shoe closet and not something major," Fozard says.

The board also awarded a bid for summer site work to low bidder R.C. Bowman at cost of $1.6 million. The summer project will include a rear access drive around the South Building to create a new entrance by the beginning of the 2015 academic year. The front parking lot will become a construction parking lot.

Board member Jim Pawelczyk pointed out that this was the first time in 25 years that the board discussed major renovation at the high school. Poprik was noticeably excited about that fact.

"This is a monumental bid forward," Poprik says, "at least in terms of the concept that this starts the project we’ve been talking about for my entire tenure with the district, which is approaching two decades."


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Zach Berger is the managing editor of He graduated from Penn State University in 2014 with a degree in print journalism. Zach enjoys writing about a variety of topics ranging from football to government, music, and everything in between.
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