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Public input welcome on building plans

Published October 30. 2013 05:00PM

Lehighton Area School Board has scheduled a special meeting for a work session with the Building Project Committee to address districtwide, long-range facilities plans.

This work session will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4. It is tentatively scheduled at Lehighton Area School District Administration Building, Conference Room A. However, if the size of the crowd warrants, the meeting may be moved to Lehighton Area High School Auditorium.

Matters discussed at the work session will not be voted upon until the next regular school board meeting, at the earliest which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18.

"We have to look at all of our options and be rational," said School Board President Rocky Ahner concerning building projects. "We can't get carried away and put taxpayers in jeopardy."

According to Ahner, "Mr. Vogel at PDE is a neutral source of information the committee can utilize on behalf of the district so that we do not create an imbalance in the PlanCon projects or the educational system of our district."

Proposed plans

A proposed plan was presented to the school board and to the public in September and is broken down into three phases over a five-year period.

Phase I included renovations and additions to East Penn and Mahoning Elementary Schools as well as the construction of a new multipurpose stadium to be built near the district's existing field hockey and track site. It would be located between Lehighton Area School District Administration Building and the high school.

Phase II included renovations and additions to Franklin Elementary School and Lehighton Area High School.

Phase III included renovations to Lehighton Area Middle School.

Under this proposed long-range facilities plan, grades and buildings would be realigned.

All built in 1954 East Penn, Franklin, and Mahoning Elementary Schools would service students in grades kindergarten through five. Those students in grades kindergarten through five who would have attended Shull-David Elementary School would instead attend the current middle school.

All sixth grade students from throughout the school district would also attend the current middle school for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) curriculum which would keep the team teaching concept and offer electives. Built in 1962-64, the current middle school building originally served as the high school for the district.

Under this plan, the building would become an elementary school for students in grades kindergarten through five as well as a sixth grade center.

Built in 1992, the current high school would be Lehighton Area Junior / Senior High School servicing students in grades 7 through 12.

Shull-David could close

Also under this proposal, Shull-David Elementary School which was built in 1959 would be closed and hopefully sold. Potential buyers discussed during the presentation include Lehigh Carbon Community College, Blue Mountain Health System, and Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit 21.

The new multipurpose stadium would replace the current football stadium located at Beaver Run Road and Mahoning Street in Lehighton. The current Lehighton Football Stadium then known as "the new athletic field" was constructed in 1939-1940.

The total estimated cost of this proposed long-range facilities plan is $54,000,000 minus reimbursements from PlanCon over a 20-year period totaling $15,118,386 for a total project cost of $38,881,614.

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.

For all PowerPoint presentations and feasibility studies concerning LASD facilities, visit the LASD website at Click on "Files and Documents" under "Quick Links." Click on "District." The various presentations can be found under "Building Feasibility Study."

Meeting update

In addition to discussing building projects at the work session, Superintendent Jonathan J. Cleaver will also report on the recent meeting between the school board ad hoc committee and James Vogel, architectural consultant with the Pennsylvania Department of Education division of school facilities, bureau of budget and fiscal management.

This committee consists of Cleaver; Business Administrator J. Michael Malay Jr.; Joseph Hauser, supervisor of building and grounds; school board directors from the Building and Grounds Committee Wayne Wentz and Hill; School Board Vice President Hal Resh; and Ahner.

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