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Ringgold pushing ahead with school construction?

| Monday, March 3, 2014, 12:51 a.m.

Poised to construct a new middle school, the Ringgold School Board has been waiting for a state funding program to resume before proceeding.

But faced with the prospect that the state's PlanCon might not be reinstated this year, the board may be proceeding, with or without the state's financial help.

PlanCon, the state's Planning and Construction Workbook, is a set of forms and procedures used to apply for state reimbursement of costs for new building construction.

Last year, the board voted to construct a new middle school on the Carroll Township campus where the high school is located.

It would replace the Ringgold Middle School – the former Finley Middle School building – which has been shifting for years, the result of a now-dormant pyrite mass beneath the surface.

The district had been waiting to proceed until the Corbett administration reinstated the funding program. But board President Mariann Bulko said Sunday that J. Greer Hayden, of HHSDR, the district's architectural and engineering firm, will be asked for his opinion about the prospect of proceeding with the building construction project now.

District business director Randy Skrinjovich also will be consulted about the feasibility of moving forward.

Bulko said sources in Harrisburg have indicated to district leaders that PlanCon might not be reinstated for two to three years.

In the meantime, she said, the district is looking at dumping more money into propping up the former Finley Middle School.

“PlanCon gives us $8 million and, before you know it, we're going to be putting $8 million into Ringgold Middle School,” Bulko said.

Bulko noted that the board is still awaiting a price tag on a project that would remove pyrite that's pushing up on beams beneath the floor of the cafeteria of the middle school.

Bulko said the board could not proceed with a new middle school until after July 1, when it will officially know the fate of PlanCon for the coming year.

“I think we should pursue building a new middle school at the high school campus,” Bulko said.

“We need to put all of our ducks in a row so we can take a vote in July.”

Bulko's plan may be gaining momentum on the board.

Director Chris Carroll said the board can go to bidto see what the project would cost.

“I think it's time to move on,” Carroll said. “The last election told us the public is in favor of moving forward.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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