Cougars look to improve the den

October 2, 2018

North Star school board members are weighing their financial options for improvements to the district’s buildings.

During a special committee of the whole meeting Monday, school board members met with representatives of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates Architects to discuss their findings in the district’s building renovation study. The Mechanicsburg firm also discussed with board members what the district is looking for in a potential comprehensive building renovation.

Jessie Harder, Crabtree architectural project coordinator, said that while the district’s buildings are in good shape, there are still some issues the school should address. Some examples include air conditioning at all three buildings, boilers and security updates.

“When you look at it from a monetary standpoint, your buildings are in relatively really good shape,” she said to board members. “They need some maintenance work, and that’s where you get into your bigger numbers. But they have been cared for very well.”

Crabtree officials reported it would cost the district between $20 million and $30 million during the next 20 years to address all of the major concerns with the three buildings.

Officials planned to do a feasibility study to get a sense of the conditions 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.

Superintendent Louis Lepley said the goal of this study is to make sure the district’s buildings are running efficiently and utilizing the space available to meet the needs of the students.

“For us, the study really is what we need to do, for now, to get our three existing buildings to where they need to be,” Lepley said.

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

“Based off of what decisions we come up with, and what Crabtree comes up with, will obviously dictate where we can go from there,” he said. “But all of that will be reworked in the financial side of things once we have a direction on where we want to head.”

One option that was discussed Monday was consolidating the three buildings into one area. While Crabtree officials said they would put together financial options for such a situation, some board members said it’s not an option they want to consider.

“It’s not something I’m too excited about,” board member Robbie Bloom said during the meeting.

Board members also discussed options for absorbing the administration building into one of the school buildings, and the potential for adding additional classrooms.

Crabtree officials at the meeting predicted that they should be able to finalize their financial options for the school board within a month. Officials are hoping to reach out to the public once they make a final decision.

“I think once we narrow our scope down, absolutely I think we will have to have some kind of special meeting to throw that information out, let the public go through it and see where it goes from there,” he said.

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