As previously directed by Lehighton Area School Board, Architectural Consultant Mark Barnhardt of EI Associates recently reported that parts A and B of the required PlanCon paperwork have been submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Since a moratorium went into effect Oct. 1 that freezes reimbursements, the submission of this paperwork assures that the school district would receive reimbursement from the state if construction is initiated.

When a school district undertakes a major construction project and seeks reimbursement from the state, a comprehensive process known as PlanCon is initiated.

PlanCon is an acronym for PLANning and CONstruction Workbook. It is a set of forms and procedures used to apply for reimbursement from the state. The PlanCon forms are designed to document a local school district's planning process; provide justification for a project to the public; ascertain compliance with state laws and regulations; and establish the level of state participation in the cost of the project.

Following Barnhardt's report, the school board voted to direct the administration to begin meeting with EI Associates to put together a long-range facility plan in accordance with the PlanCon guidelines. This planning will include developing project specifications and financial estimates for final approval by the board.

"Put all projects into a five-year timeline," suggested Barnhardt. "Rank maintenance projects, non-reimbursable projects, and reimbursable PlanCon projects."

School board President Rocky Ahner said, "Every step of this long-range plan will be carefully reviewed and voted on by the board."

In a separate presentation to the school board, Barry Isett & Associates, Inc. engineer Rob Sarnowski reported his firm's assessment of the high school building.

Apparently, there is "substantial water infiltration of the window and door lintels." In other words, the outside doors and windows leak.

According to Sarnowski, "These problems appear to date back to the original construction." Lehighton Area High School was built in 1992.

He also reported that there are concerns with the outside brick walls.

"There aren't enough brick ties," said Sarnowski. "There should be one brick tie for every 1.77 feet. The ties on the high school building are every six feet or so."

The school board will review the 20-page report.

Mark Maholick, who identified himself as a parent of children who attend Lehighton Area School District, a teacher in the district, and a taxpayer, addressed the school board about the importance of prioritizing.

"While addressing the building needs, I urge you to keep in mind providing the healthiest and safest environment for everyone in the district buildings," he said. "I also ask that you show respect and appreciation to our community's teachers by agreeing to a fair contract prior to going ahead with the much needed improvements to the facilities."

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. in the administration building, conference room A. The public is encouraged to attend.

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