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Pleasant Vly. weighs HS building options

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Published April 09. 2019 01:48PM


Pleasant Valley School District could be facing a price tag of anywhere from $17 million for renovations to $100 million for a new high school.

On Monday evening, the buildings and grounds committee of the Pleasant Valley School District saw results from the feasibility study conducted by KCBA Architects.

KCBA was hired to do an extensive study of the existing building and to present options on how to use the building in the future to best serve the students and the district.

New high school?

Michael Kelly and Jamie Bortz of KCBA presented a number of options to the board and Superintendent David Piperato.

One of the options, which was pretty quickly discarded, both by KCBA and the directors was to build a new high school.

“Your existing building is larger than you need for your enrollment,” Kelly said. “And those numbers should continue to decrease at a rate of 15 percent over the next six years. The numbers don’t warrant that kind of commitment.”

The current enrollment at the high school is about 1,500 students. The current building capacity is 1,600 students.

“The national average is 180 square feet per student. At PV that is closer to 207,” Kelly said.

Director Donna Yozwiak and Piperato both pointed out that with the Monroe County Technical Institute considering a move to a comprehensive program, the high school enrollment could decrease by another 200 to 250 students.

Kelly said that would mean a decrease in the cost of any of the options such as in the most expensive renovation option, the district might only need a single-story addition and not a two-story addition.

Kelly said that the estimate for a new school building was $100,604,519.

KCBA said a new building could be attached to the new gym over the existing baseball field.

Other options include a new addition on the front eastern portion of the building closest to the new auditorium and existing student parking. The addition would be two stories high, and when completed would replace the John C. Mills portion of the school that borders Route 115.

That part of the building would later be demolished and turned into more parking. The new addition would house modern academy-style classroom space, a dedicated student entrance, which would enhance school safety and would decrease the sprawling footprint of the current design.

“The smaller footprint would be more efficient to heat and cool,” Kelly said.

This option also includes revamping the old gym into a more modern fitness center and lab and classroom space. This approach was the most expensive at $69.8 million.

Other options

Other options included some additional building and varying levels of refurbishments, ranging from $48.3 to $53 million.

As an absolute minimum, if the district only concentrated on the needed overhaul of the mechanical systems, the price would be in the $17 million to $19 million range.

Kelly said KCBA has been trying to work with UGI to bring natural gas to the school, which would be a major cost savings over the currently used coal-fired boilers.

“I have heard of districts that still have the old coal bins on property,” Kelly said. “But I have never seen a district that still uses a coal-fired boiler. The economics of converting to gas is significant.”

Director Laura Jecker asked if KCBA would be invited to address the public at Thursday evening’s board meeting.

“I think that with the board considering an investment this large the public needs an opportunity to become involved,” Jecker said.

“I agree with the need for public involvement,” Director Ken Cocuzzo responded. “But right now this is too much for even we to wrap our heads around and we need to discuss this among ourselves, and we need to narrow our focus and get more details before we confuse the situation even more.”

A few weeks ago at a board meeting, Cocuzzo said a new school would cost about $100 million, giving the public a glimpse into what the outcome of the feasibility study would be.

“No one here is willing to sign up to spend a $100 million,” board President Sue Kresge said.

Kelly cautioned the district that a renovation of the type discussed would run about two and half years. Delays in awarding contracts will cost the district a minimum of 2 to 3.5 percent per year. Kelly added that in 2018 the industry saw the largest increase in costs at 10 percent.

“A job that was quoted at $72,000,000 increased to $82,000,000 in just one year,” Kelly said.


In 2015-16 the state stopped funding PlanCon, zeroing out a budget line that had reached more than $300 million annually. That still stands, but these School Boards don't seem to care, after all, it's not their $100 million. Oh... that argument of how the cost will inflate every year you wait, is old hat, every board member learns that tactic from the PASBO.
Kelly tossed out this "better act now because costs increase every year" line so KCBA's bottom line will benefit. If the school board chooses to waste millions of taxpayer dollars, as they are constantly want to do, the architects will be sent a very handsome paycheck. Pleasant Valley should be cutting back expenses, not increasing them.

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