Design for High School Project Now 30% Complete, School Board Reviews Plans
October 14, 2014 6:15 AM
by Michael Martin Garrett
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The State College Area School District’s High School Plan design is now 30% complete, meaning the school board had a lot of catching up to do on Monday night.

Members of the design team – including representatives from Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates Architects, the ELA Landscape Architecture Group and Massaro Construction – made an in-depth presentation to the board.

One of the unique challenges the designers face is efficiently running a school and a construction site at the same place at the same time. 

“We’re trying to do everything with the mindset that this is an educational facility,” said Dan Kiefer of Massaro. “Our construction site is at your school. Your school is not at our construction site."

Though the design plan is progressing according to schedule, Jeff Straub of Crabtree said planning construction around an active school building has pushed the project from a 30 month construction schedule to an anticipated 36 or 37 month schedule.

The project is tentatively broken into six construction phases, with careful attention paid to moving students into new and renovated spaces as they become available, Tim Jones from Massaro said. Temporary trailers, parking spaces and walkways will be used to compensate for lost space throughout the course of the project.

Construction is scheduled to by August 2015. The entire project would be completed by the end of July 2018.

Straub said the design team is currently in the process of planning the internal layout of the buildings. Classrooms will mostly be located around the perimeter of the buildings to take advantage of natural light, with service spaces and other rooms toward the center of the building. 

In the four large pods in the south building, Straub said the design team is also being careful to keep various related subjects, referred to as learning communities, close by to encourage collaborative learning.

The only major change the design team has had to contend with since the summer referendum that approved the project has been the extension of the district’s Delta alternative education program into the middle school level, Straub said.

This forced the design team to reevaluate planned space for the Delta project, which was roughly doubled by incorporating a second floor into the space.

SCASD Director of Physical Plant Ed Poprik also said the addition of that second floor for the Delta program carries additional costs that cannot be avoided, though it’s not clear how much.

Harlow said that “not a whole has changed since the referendum” for the overall site plan, with the exception of possibly adding a traffic signal at the intersection of Westerly Parkway and O'Bryan Lane.

However, it's considered highly unlikely that the project meets PennDOT’s requirements for placing a traffic light at that location, forcing the project to rely more heavily on the existing light at Plaza Drive and Westerly Parkway.

Harlow added that a second light at the Welsh Pool may still be likely, and parking accommodations will be made for the pool throughout the construction process.

The design team is also working with the State College Borough to obtain variances on parking spaces and building height to better accommodate the project, Harlow said. The team is currently holding talks with the borough planning commission. The planning commission will continue discussing those requests at an October 16 meeting.

The school board also voted for  second time to approve a mediator's report in their negotiations with the State College Area Support Personnel Association and their union. If union representatives also approve the report in the next few days – after rejecting it once before – the report will serve as the basis for new contracts with the district. If not, negotiations will continue.


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