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Weatherly to host forum on school swap proposal

Published January 23. 2018 01:42PM

The Weatherly Area School Board will host a community forum on the proposed school swap and $10 million construction project at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the high school gym.

EI Associates, a Harrisburg based engineering company, proposed a plan to switch prekindergarten through fifth grade with the high school grades, moving the elementary students to the building across the street and educating the higher-grade students with the middle classes for grades six through 12.

According to the November report issued by EI Associates, the sizes of rooms are more appropriate and typical for an elementary school of similar size and capacity. There will be a fenced-in play area for primary grades with no crossover of older students at elementary school. The layout of the building is simple “not as mazelike as in the middle school” and the high school is considered more secure and less exposed than the K-5 play areas.

The firm listed advantages for the switch will be a smaller community for elementary school students, pre-K and kindergarten will be on the lower level with cafeteria, art, music, gym and play areas; and in larger spaces than at the current elementary school.

In addition to the proposed swap, the firm also presented a list of prioritized list of repairs and renovation for both building with projects and prices ranging from replacing the gym floor for $233,100 or replacing the wood patching on the gym floor and refinishing it for $62,000, replacing the old bleachers with plastic motorized bleachers that are ADA compliant seating at $250,000, compared to replacing the bleachers and installing nonmotorized bleachers for $200,000.

Security update options proposed included for the elementary/middle school building are the replacement of light poles and new parking lot site lighting, new door hardware with security locks with two new security vestibules with security hardware and bulletproof transaction window, consolidation of administration as main gatekeeper for the visitors’ entrance and parent drop-off at the elementary school building, replacing underground oil tanks with aboveground tanks, replacing concrete steps at the rear of the current elementary building and installing new emergency lighting and new fire alarm system with lower pull stations.

The building’s plumbing fixtures will also be replaced, along with the piping and insulation, water heater, main switchboard and a new emergency generator.

The study suggested “optional” updates as well, including a new six-lane rubber latex track that would cost just north of $1 million.

Weatherly’s district’s business manager and board secretary Peter Bard said, “The tax increases for the proposed building project would start for the 2019-20 budget. So the board does not have to ‘rush’ to vote on the proposed building project.”

He added, “These discussions have been ongoing for months. So while there isn’t a rush, they are ready to present the EI Associates feasibility and building study and proposal to the public. I am aware of a few of the people’s concerns, which is one of the reasons why there will be a public forum.”

Work on the elementary would be $1.07 million, with the high school work at $8.5 million, with the optional updates rounding out the price tag at $10.64 million.

The costs according to EI are based on recent estimated costs from recently bid projects in 2017.

The public can submit questions to that will be answered during the presentation.

Questions submitted will be answered and available as a FAQ that will be available on the district’s website.

Residents are encouraged to attend the meeting at Weatherly’s High School, 601 Sixth St.

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