UBCTS pon­ders $20 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion project

News-Herald (Perkasie, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bob Keeler

Al­most half a cen­tury af­ter its 1964 start, Up­per Bucks County Tech­ni­cal School is long over­due for an up­date to its build­ings, ac­cord­ing to Bernard Wa­genseller, the school’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

Along with mak­ing sure the school’s pro­grams each have enough space and the right stuff for 21st cen­tury needs, re­build­ing would in­clude ad­di­tional se­cu­rity and Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­ity Act re­quire­ments for ac­ces­si­bil­ity, he said.

Be­yond that, though, it could be part of get­ting the coun­try out of its eco­nomic dol­drums.

“:H’UH SWUXJJOLQJ WR fiQG WKH SHR­ple who can do ma­chin­ing, who can GR WKH SLSH fiWWLQJ, wKR FDQ EXLOG WKH bridges and do all the con­struc­tion and all the other tech­ni­cal skills,” Wa­genseller said.

“There’s so many peo­ple that are out of work and there’s so many jobs that are out there, but the dis­con­nect is these peo­ple who are out of work don’t have the skill sets to do these jobs and at the same time, the ca­reer and tech­ni­cal cen­ters like Up­per Bucks are teach­ing those skills, but some­where in the for­mula, there’s a dis­con­nect, and I think part of it is Amer­ica needs to in­still pride again in trades and the tech­ni­cal ca­reers,” :DJHQSHOOHU SDLG. “FRU PH, fixLQJ WKH EXLOGLQJ XS LS WKH fiUSW SWHS LQ hav­ing kids feel the pride.”

With the school now hav­ing about 640 students from the Pen­nridge, Pal­isades and Quak­er­town school dis­tricts, one of the goals is to in­crease that num­ber, he said, but the cur­rent fa­cil­i­ties make it harder to do that. Students at the school spend half their school day in their home dis­trict and half at the tech­ni­cal school on Ridge Road in Bed­min­ster Town­ship.

“We are a school of choice. Peo­ple come here and they look at our build­ing and they choose not to come here,” Wa­genseller said.

2vHU WKH SDSW SHvHUDO yHDUS, fivH fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies for re­build­ing at the school have been con­ducted. The lat­est one, by God­shall Kane O’Rourke Ar­chi­tects, of Ambler, is dif­fer­ent, though, Wa­genseller said.

“The fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies of the past have re­ally looked at the nuts and bolts of the cam­pus,” he said.

“That’s im­por­tant, but what the pre­vi­ous fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies didn’t

do was look at the pro­gram ar­eas and say what was ap­pro­pri­ate in 1964, and even into the ‘70s when the an­nex build­ing was built, isn’t nec­es­sar­ily what’s ap­pro­pri­ate for to­day’s in­dus­try stan­dards for teach­ing the pro­grams that we’re teach­ing,” Wa­genseller said. “While wH FaQ fix RuU buLOdLQJV, it’s im­por­tant that we take a look also at the pro­grams that we’re teach­ing. Are they the right pro­grams and are the lab ar­eas set up to teach these pro­grams ef­fec­tively?”

The school’s Joint Oper­at­ing Com­mit­tee was shown eight op­tions for build­ing plans and has cho­sen one, which, while not yet fully de­vel­oped, will be taken back to the full school boards of the three dis­tricts for their re­view, he said.

“What we were hop­ing for was some con­sen­sus from the three dis­tricts to say, ‘OK, take the next step.’ and the next step would be to tell our ar­chi­tect to sharpen their SHQFLO aQd JLYH uV WKH fiQHU de­tails of what this plan’s go­ing to look like,” Wa­genseller said.

Ball­park price es­ti­mates for the op­tion cho­sen are in the $20 mil­lion to $22 mil­lion range, he said.

The state of Penn­syl­va­nia cur­rently has placed a mora­to­rium on state re­im­burse­ments for pub­lic school con­struc­tion projects, but UBC76 fiOHd IRU WKH UHLPburse­ment in time to get in be­fore the start of the mora­to­rium.

Ca­reer and tech­ni­cal schools gen­er­ally get a larger re­im­burse­ment than school dis­tricts be­cause the tech­ni­cal schools serve more than one dis­trict, Wa­genseller said.

“By SURYLdLQJ VLJQL­f­i­cantly higher amounts of re­im­burse­ment, it en­cour­ages dis­tricts to join forces to form a con­sor­tium,” he said. “We stand to be re­im­bursed aW OHaVW fiYH WR VLx PLOOLRQ dol­lars, and that’s be­cause we’re the con­sor­tium ca­reer tech­ni­cal cen­ter that we are.”

Al­though he’d pre­fer to see re­build­ing hap­pen sooner rather than later, Wa­genseller said, there’s no time frame at­tached to the plans.

The next step is to take what’s al­ready been done and have a more in-depth anal­y­sis com­pleted, so the school boards can make their de­ci­sions, he said.

“Whether you do some­thing with it or not is up to you, to take the next step, but you’re go­ing to know what’s wrong with those boil­ers and that elec­tri­cal sys­tem and that gen­er­a­tor,” Wa­genseller said. “vou’re go­ing to NQRw VSHFL­fiFaOOy what it’s go­ing to cost to re­place all these things, so that would be the next phase.”

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