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School Board Cuts Options for High School Project to Two

by on July 23, 2013 6:20 AM

After reviewing results of a survey, the State College Area School Board of Directors voted to eliminate four of the six High School Project options at its regular meeting Monday night. 

Now, 302 days until a May 2014 referendum, the board is moving forward with two options. Option B would include additions and renovations to the existing North and South buildings, with a walkway or bridge across Westerly Parkway. Students would continue to use both buildings during the school day.

Concept D would involve major additions and renovations to the South building so that all core academic classes would be on one side of the street. Portions of the North building would be retained for student and community use, including the natatorium and gymnasium.

Board president, Penni Fishbaine, says the board will work closely with the State College Borough to ensure any and all upgrades and renovations will be done with safety and security as the top priority.

In surveys returned to the school board, 71 percent of respondents said safety and security was the number one factor they consider when weighing options for the high school project. Also, 55 percent percent of respondents said they believe it's acceptable for the community to support an investment of up to $110 million in a referendum. 

"We use the best information we can aquire at the time that is most likely to pass referendum," says board member Jim Pawelczyk.

Coming up, the board will compare the remaining two options using what they call an "evaluation matrix." The matrix is made up of 55 criteria developed by the Citizens Advisory Committees (CACs) and the Community Engagement Action Team (CEAT). The criteria fall into six categories: safety and security, educational model, site and location, cost, its ability to be constructed and sustainability.

Board members will assign their own weights to each category and will rate the remaining options with information from the building design team. A vote to select a final concept and budget is scheduled for the board meeting on Sept. 9.

The district will schedule community forums and conversations over the coming months. The administration will also present a plan for improving the educational model on Aug. 26. 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.

Learn more about the High School Project online.

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Laura Nichols is a StateCollege.com news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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