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Ringgold approves renovation contracts

| Thursday, March 20, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

The Ringgold School District hopes to begin renovations to the high school and Ringgold Elementary School North this summer.

The school board conducted a hearing for public comment Wednesday on the Finleyville-based elementary school project.

Then at a meeting that followed, the directors approved contracts for the high school work.

The elementary school project will include construction of six new classrooms and expansion of the kitchen area. That work, among three options considered, was previously approved by the board.

The maximum project cost for construction and furnishing Ringgold Elementary School North is $4,676,670. The maximum building construction cost is $3,345,000.

The millage impact would be 1.27 mills.

The existing elementary school building was constructed in 1940 and partially renovated in 1986. Six modular classrooms were added in 2011, when the former Finley Middle School was converted to an elementary school.

Written comments from the public will be accepted through April 21.

Bids for the Ringgold Elementary School North would be let after that date with plans to conduct the construction during the summer break, Superintendent Dr. Karen Polkabla said.

Sandra Koontz, whose property borders the elementary school, asked about setback. J. Greer Hayden, president of HHSR engineers, said the setback from her property is 18 feet, well beyond the minimum under borough code for her backyard.

Koontz asked why district officials never offered to buy her property.

“Is it big enough for six classrooms?” asked director Gene Kennedy, drawing laughs.

Koontz smiled and said it could house school offices.

Director Larry Mauro expressed his concerns about the elementary school project.

“My main concern is no big picture,” Mauro said. Where are we going to get the money? Who's going to pay for this.”

Mauro said the district has $40 million in debt service, which could double with the school renovations projects and possible construction of a new middle school.

“Where will we be in five to eight years?” Mauro said.

During the board meeting, directors approved five contracts totaling more than $1.8 million for high school improvements. The work includes renovations to the auditorium, second floor restrooms and HVAC unit, as well as new doors and a security vestibule for the main entrance to the school.

The contracts were: Plavchak Construction, $836,600 for general construction; East-West Manufacturing and Supply Company Inc., $624,570 for HVAC; Wheels Mechanical Contracting and Supplier Inc., $180,700 for plumbing construction; A-1 Electric Inc., $166,300 for electric; and WAE Balancing Inc., $17,100 for HVAC commissioning services.

Mauro and board President Mariann Bulko voted against the contracts for East-West Manufacturing and Supply Company Inc. and Mechanical Contracting and Supplier Inc., noting the two firms did work at Ringgold Elementary School South.

“The reason I voted no was because they were contractors for RESS. Everyone knows we had a lot of problems up there,” Bulko said, echoing Mauro's sentiments.

The board also approved submitting letters to Donora and Monongahela respectively, asking that the former Donora and Monongahela elementary centers be rezoned as multi-family residential. Polkabla said the zoning changes would make the buildings more marketable.

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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