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 Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FRONT PAGE - BY JIM DINO StAFF WritEr Con­tact the writer: [email protected]­dard speaker.com; 570-501-3585

‘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.

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