A ‘bare bones’ plan Weatherly Area’s building program is just enough to make necessary repairs, board president says.
Weatherly Area School Board president says plan is enough to fix up district’s two schools.
‘The last thing I want to do, to taxpayers or any family, is to do a project that would seem unfair or unfit. Now it hit the fan. There’s no easy way around it.’ William Knepper Weatherly Area School Board director
WEATHERLY — Weatherly Area School District’s $8 million building program will cost the district about $30,000 a year for the next 25 years, a board member said.
Director Brian O’Donnell said the building plan will extend present debt by 0.083 mill a year.
“We now pay $340,000 a year,” O’Donnell said, referring to district debt. “We will be extending that to around $370,000 a year. It doesn’t necessarily mean a tax increase. It just means we have to do some things administratively and board-wise to be able to make this work over the next 25 years.”
Board President Gerald Fewins said the building plan is bare bones, just fixing up the elementary/middle school and the high school.
And there is no building switch, which would have almost doubled the cost of the project.
“We have included $2 million for soft costs and change orders,” Fewins said
Areas of improvement from the building plan at the elementary/ middle school include the creation of new security building entrances, which include office relocation; necessary improvements to the current fire alarm system; installation and repair of outside lighting; replacement of underground oil tanks; refinishing the gymnasium floor and installing new bleachers and a sound system; replacing flooring where asbestos is present and where carpeting needs to be repaired due to wear; necessary improvements to the heating, ventilating and air conditioning system; replacing ceiling tiles, as needed; selective painting, as needed; installation of portable chair lift; masonry work, as needed; necessary improvements to electrical system and lighting; repair of the public address/bell system; installation of emergency generator; plumbing replacement as needed; installation of a new master clock system; Americans with Disabilities Act configurations and door hardware, and installation of fire-rated corridor doors.
Areas of improvement at the high school will be the creation a security building entrance, which is included in office modifications; ADA configurations; replacement of underground oil tanks; refinish gym floor and replace gym padding; replace stage chair lift; replace 80-ton chiller; necessary HVAC upgrades; replace pneumatic control system with a direct digital control system, and add head controls; replace emergency generator; installation of an automatic master clock system; improvements to the public address system, as needed; modifications to create restrooms that are ADA compliant; installation of ADA door levers; a new science lab, and a new media center.
The lone director to vote against the plan, Gerald Grega, said the proposed repairs “can be taken care of through normal annual budgetary means and revenues, without going into a long-term financing obligation, which is what this project is doing . ...
“Anyone who votes for this plan is going to the cost the district millions of additional dollars in taxes,” he said to fellow board members.
O’Donnell and Director Matthew vonFrisch said the board has considered that option over the last year and a half, as they have deliberated the building plan.
“Have you shown us any plan to do that out of our general fund?” O’Donnell asked.
“You think we haven’t discussed that before?” vonFrisch asked Grega. “It has been a major topic of discussion at every meeting. You haven’t been part of them.”
VonFrisch said Business Manager Peter Bard and Superintendent Teresa Young have provided everything we have asked for.”
Grega, a board member since 1991, has participated in meetings by telephone since March because of a physical ailment.
Director William Knepper said the work on the schools has been delayed, and now has to be addressed.
“The last thing I want to do, to taxpayers or any family, is to do a project that would seem unfair or unfit,” Knepper said. “Now it hit the fan. There’s no easy way around it.”
Grega doesn’t believe all of the work in the building plan is urgent.
“I don’t believe the board clarified what are necessary repairs, what they choose to do, and what might be a wish list,” Grega said Friday evening. “I’ve been asking for differentiation since last January.”
The project will begin when classes end in June and take up to two years to complete, Young said.