A project to replace its junior high/senior high fire panel system could cost Palmerton nearly $100,000.

The district would pay for the project from its capital projects fund, it was revealed at the school board's Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting on Thursday.

But, before it can do that, it must first adopt a resolution to pay for the project from out of the fund, Superintendent Carol Boyce said.

Boyce told the committee it has $108,800 in its capital projects fund, compared to just $26,500 in its capital reserve fund.

Dave Rodrigues, director of facilities, told the committee a proposal the district received from CSI would cost about $96,266. That, coupled with an ongoing inspection fee of about $3,000, and a potential $300 cost to obtain a permit, would round out the project's cost, he said.

Rodrigues said the current fire projection panel at the complex is shot.

"The fire protection panel is obsolete," Rodrigues said. "We need to replace that."

Boyce cautioned that the district must act fast before the proposal is withdrawn from CSI.

"We're already 30 days over," she said. "Any further delay may wind up being another increase."

Committee member Barry Scherer said the project has been discussed for a while, and agreed action must be taken.

The matter is expected to be listed on the school board agenda at its Jan. 19 meeting.

Also on Thursday, Boyce told the committee the district expects to receive its $20,000 check sometime this month for the remediation of the Coal Bowl playground area.

Regardless of which option it chooses, Boyce said a portion of the playground area must be capped as part of the remediation.

"We do need to determine what we want to do," Boyce said. "Do we cap at six inches, or do we cap at 12 inches?"

If the district were to cap at six inches, she said there could be no additional use at the playground area. However, if it were to cap at 12 inches, Boyce said the district could pursue a playground.

The committee said it would like to cap the playground area 12 inches. Boyce said doing so would enable the district to receive assistance from the P.T.O. and Beautification Committee.

However, Boyce cautioned that the district must use clean soil.

She said the district does have soil on the junior high/senior high campus that came from the Towamensing Elementary project.

Another option, Boyce said, is for the district to keep the soil in reserve for the potential addition of more practice fields.

Based on rough estimates, Boyce said new soil would cost $11,000, while stockpile soil would cost $4,700.

"If we go with all new soil, we will need to put the job out for bid," she said. "We would also need help in writing specs, and I recommend we [utilize] Barry Isset (& Associates Inc.)."

The committee said it would like to put the project out to bid, and potentially hire Isset to write the project's specs.

In an unrelated matter, Rodrigues announced that the high school boys locker room/team room has been upgraded.

Rodrigues said vandalism had occurred in the past, which prompted the district to remove lockers and damaged blackboards.

However, committee member Tina Snyder said that while the room is improved, it could be better.

"It is an improvement, but the kids don't have their own place to put things," Snyder said. "There's not enough space for all the kids to put all of their stuff."

But, athletic director Bill Congdon said he believes the room is a marked improvement.

"I think it's a tremendous improvement," Congdon said. "It's tremendous, and I'm really proud of the work Dave's crew has done on it."

The committee also discussed whether it should retain its current electrical supplier.

Lisa Vignone, business manager, said a cost comparison was obtained from Provident Consutling Solutions, which contracts with the Constellation Energy Rate.

Based on the comparison, Vignone said their rate was under nine cents per kilowatt hour. With PPL, Vignone said the district currently pays 10 cents per kilowatt hour.

She said Provident has proposed a two-year contract for the years 2010 and 2011.

"Last year, we spent $227,000 on electricity," Vignone said. "We would probably see about a $30,000 savings over one year."

That would amount to a $60,000 savings over two years, committee member Michael Ballard pointed out.

The committee said it was in favor of a two-year contract with Provident.

A resolution will be listed on the board's meeting agenda Jan. 19.