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

School Board Hears Updates on Memorial Field Renovation Design, 2017-18 Budget

by on April 04, 2017 3:03 PM

Though plans for phase 2 of the Memorial Field renovations call for the school district's Nittany Avenue building to be demolished, the basement foundation of the existing structure could remain in place to provide underground space.

The State College Area School Board on Monday discussed design plans for the renovations and also received an update on the 2017-18 budget development.

Ed Poprik, district director of physical plant, told the board that the district's goal is to have a schematic design for the renovations approved in the coming weeks and that under the current timeline construction would begin in the spring of 2018.

In response to public input, architectural firm Weber Murphy Fox is studying the possibility of reusing the basement of the building at 131 W. Nittany Ave. Under the option selected by the board in January, the building, a former schoolhouse and later administrative center, is to be demolished and the basement filled in to form the foundation for a pedestrian plaza.

The building will still be demolished, but the basement foundation walls would be left in place to create 5,000 square feet of underground space for a coaches classroom, storage and other uses. The plaza would be slightly realigned under that alternate option. 

Cost estimates for the alternate option are expected to be available at the April 24 meeting, when the board is scheduled to vote on the schematic design.

Other potential additions to the design include an expanded press box, 500 additional seats in the south end zone and the possibility of some backrests for the new east-side bleachers that are part of the plan.

Architect Anna Childe said the bleachers could have a mix of seats with and without backrests to give spectators a choice.

The plan approved in January calls for a new building to be constructed under the bleachers for locker rooms, spectator restrooms, the classroom and other project elements. The classroom would shift to the former Nittany Avenue basement space in the alternate option.

Budget Update

Development of the proposed 2017-18 district budget continues, with the board scheduled to vote on a proposed budget on May 8 and a final budget on June 12. 

The update provided on Monday by business administrators Randy Brown and Donna Watson projects $149,946,972 in revenue and $150,482,975 in expenses. Administrators expect to bring a balanced proposal to the April 24 meeting.

The current proposed real estate tax increase is 1.55 percent, which is below the district's Act 1 index ceiling of 2.5. 

"The administration has built the 2017­18 budget proposal recognizing the significant tax impact the community has felt during the past two years from the debt service for the high school project," the update states.

The past two years real estate tax rate increase were 5.49 percent and 4.32 percent. The 1.55 percent increase for 2017-18 would generate about $900,000 in revenue.

Salary and benefits comprise a combined 72 percent of the budget.

Capital and debt financing comprises 11 percent of the budget and charter school expenses make up about 9 percent of the budget based on a projected charter enrollment of just over 400.

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