North Star weighing financial impact of building project

December 4, 2018

North Star school board members are waiting until 2019 to make decisions about improvements to the district’s buildings.

Board members said they are waiting for financial options from representatives of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates Architects on possible building improvements. The Mechanicsburg firm conducted a renovation study of the district’s buildings.

Superintendent Louis Lepley said Crabtree is planning to contact the district after the holidays with figures to accompany its suggestions.

“At this point they wanted to put real numbers with some of the options,” he said.

Officials asked Crabtree to do a feasibility study to get a sense of the condition of the district’s buildings, including the middle school, where the roof needs to be replaced.

Board members have been considering a roof repair since September 2016, when staff members told them about small leaks in the gymnasium that have since been fixed. Officials said the entire roof will need to be replaced in the next five years.

Lepley said there are a lot of questions regarding Crabtree’s suggestions, which include air conditioning at all three buildings and boiler and security updates. With the concerns at all three buildings, Lepley said some of these decisions take officials out of their comfort zones. The elementary and high school are located in Boswell, while the middle school is located in Kantner.

“Thankfully, everyone has been open-minded, and Crabtree has been great with providing us with ideas and different options to investigate right now,” he said.

Lepley added that if the district addresses all of the major concerns listed in Crabtree’s report, it would cost $30 million over 10 years.

In October, business manager Brandon Studer told board members that now is a good time for the district to consider doing a project. Studer added that if the district does nothing in the next 11 years, the debt would be paid off in 2029.

Lepley said one thing that is not factoring into the district’s building projects is its potential partnerships with Shade-Central City School District. Both districts are hoping to expand their sports cooperative programs and are considering conducting a feasibility study for a potential merger in the future.

“If you did something with Shade, other than what we are doing now with the co-op . . . you are probably looking at anywhere from five to 10 years for something to come into play,” he said.

Lepley said the firm’s plans take into account potential enrollment increases regardless of North Star’s relationship with Shade. Shade has 404 students enrolled for the 2018-19 school year. North Star has 1,094 students.

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