Board schedules two special meetings on building plan, stadium safety issues
Lehighton Area School Board has scheduled two special meetings this month to address two separate important issues.
The first meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 13 at 6 p.m. at Lehighton Area High School Auditorium to discuss the submission of updated PlanCon paperwork to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
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 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 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.
PlanCon paperwork had previously been initiated when the Lehighton Area School District Building Task Force Committee was formed in December 2010. This committee was charged with evaluating the conditions of the buildings throughout the district, reviewing all options, and giving the school board direction on behalf of the community. This committee was made up of approximately 30 interested community members, teachers, administrators, and school board members.
After meeting over a 10-month period, the committee proposed a building plan that would have added on to the existing high school building. This would have allowed the high school and middle school students to share some core space - while retaining their respective separate educational space.
However, that building plan failed to receive the required approval of the majority of school board members last November.
While no new construction is currently planned in LASD, the submission of this PlanCon paperwork will keep the option open so that the school district would receive reimbursement from the Commonwealth if construction is initiated.
According to LASD Superintendent Jonathan J. Cleaver, "Just because we are looking to submit the PlanCon paperwork does not mean that we are committing to anything."
School Board President Rocky Ahner added, "We just want to make sure that we keep our options open."
The next special meeting of the school board is scheduled for Thursday, September 20 at 6 p.m. at the newly-renovated Lehighton Area Middle School Gymnasium. At this meeting, the board will discuss the Lehighton Football Stadium safety issues and permanent, long-term solutions.
During a routine safety inspection of the stadium this summer, possible structural concerns were discovered and brought to the attention of LASD.
With the safety of all fans, workers, and volunteers in mind, Lehighton Area School Board hired a certified, licensed engineering firm for assessment.
Barry Isett and Associates, Inc. inspected the bleachers and deemed them to be overall structurally strong, but found certain safety issues with the height of the upper railing of the bleachers. They also had concerns about the old wooden press box.With only about a month to go before the football season would begin, temporary, short-term modifications were recommended to ensure safety.
Fans are prohibited from using the top three rows of the bleachers on both the home and away sides of the stadium. These rows are blocked off with vinyl mesh fencing.
The press box has been shored up with wooden beams for additional support. As part of the safety precautions, only four occupants are permitted to be in the press box at any one time.
The next regular meeting of Lehighton Area School Board is scheduled for Monday, September 24 at 7 p.m. at LASD Administration Building, Conference Room A.
The public is encouraged to attend all of these school board meetings.
For more information about LASD, visit www.Lehighton.org.