Share This Page

Anticipating construction, Penn-Trafford officials OK $9.5M bond

| Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 8:54 p.m.

The Penn-Trafford School Board this week unanimously authorized the borrowing of $9.5 million toward what could become an estimated $30-million renovation of the high school.

At Monday's school board meeting, district officials said they swanted to take advantage of historically low interest rates in preparation for the potential project, but the rates for the general-obligation bonds won't be finalized for at least another week.

The last major renovation at the 40-year-old high school was in 1996. Superintendent Thomas Butler said a renovation likely would upgrade the school's heating and cooling systems and plumbing and electrical infrastructure.

Other possible improvements could benefit the district's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program, with upgrades such as new science labs, he said.

“All that stuff is going to be on the table, but we have to take care of the nuts and bolts first,” Butler said.

The district is considering hiring a project manager to help as officials start the design phase in the spring, Butler said.

Depending on the state of the bond market, district officials also might pursue another $10 million or $20 million for the project in the spring, he said.

Butler said it's possible there might be a renovation plan in place by the summer so community members can give comments. He estimated the project design might be completed by fall 2013.

Last week, he gave a tentative timeline that included planning for a second building project that could begin in the summer of 2014. The second project could result in other Penn-Trafford schools being renovated or consolidated.

No option — including school consolidation or closure, grade-level reconfiguration or construction of a new school — has been discussed extensively or ruled out by officials.

The district already submitted a placeholder to the state Department of Education for possible reimbursement for a project, but statewide funding has been frozen. State officials put a moratorium on new applications for the reimbursement program, known as PlanCon, after Oct. 1

“We're going to move forward as if PlanCon is going to be funded,” Butler said. “We don't know either way.”

Officials already have set aside some other funding for a project.

In the 2012-13 budget, the school board pledged to dedicate 1 mill's worth of revenue from a 1.6-mill property-tax rate increase toward potential building renovations or new construction. One mill generates about $270,000 in revenue for the district.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8671 or cforeman@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.