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State Funds Could Help Cut Costs for High School Renovation Project

by on August 12, 2014 10:40 AM

The State College Board area school board received a number of updates at last night's meeting on the massive high school renovation project; in particular, the likelihood of receiving additional government funding to help pay for the $115 million project.

Ed Poprik, the State College Area School District facilities director, says that $5 to $6 million worth of PlanCon funding could be coming to the school district for building construction if certain requirements are met. PlanCon, short for planning and construction, is a state program that provides certain reimbursements to school districts undertaking major construction projects.

"Everything we have seen in the past is that money will come, it's just a question of when," Poprik says. "It's difficult to say when we will receive reimbursement, but the state has maintained that it will reimburse all projects."

The school district will need to meet a number of requirements to become eligible for the funding, including a formal project justification document. Poprik said that an official district-wide feasibility study less than two years old is required by PlanCon as the first element of the PlanCon application, which is something the district doesn't have yet.

"Our master plan has acted as our feasibility study," Poprik says. "In a way, it's playing games with language, but what the Department of Education needs us to include is a feasibility study."

While PlanCon funding is not guaranteed, the school board's request would cover approximately three percent of the total project cost. Poprik agreed with board member Scott Fozard when he said, "The probability of obtaining PLANCON funding is high, the timing of getting that funding is in question ... It's not a matter of if we will get a return, it's when we get approved."

According to a memo from Poprik, the school board approved a feasibility study "not to exceed $59,000" to meet PlanCon requirements at its September 10 meeting, and plans to approve the first step of the formal PlanCon application at its November 10 meeting.

The board also approved the contract for Massaro Construction Management Services to manage the renovation project. The contract calls for a lump sum $2,402,730 payment for basic services to be paid in 40 monthly installments of $54,693. The project is expected to break ground in summer 2015 and take two years to complete.

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Kevin Horne is the Managing Editor of Onward State and frequent contributor to StateCollege.com. He is also a Penn State senior, majoring in journalism and political science.
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