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Penn-Trafford High School project to take 2 years

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Board agrees to cap millage rate

With a procedural move Tuesday night, the Penn-Trafford School Board agreed to set the maximum potential property tax rate increase for 2014-15 at around 2 mills.

An inflation-based index calculated for the district enables the school board to impose a maximum potential increase of about 2.8 percent, said Brett Lago, the district's director of financial planning and business affairs.

The state Taxpayer Relief Act requires the school board to notify the state Department of Education if the district is considering a tax increase higher than the inflation index

The board resolution that passed unanimously does not guarantee that the school board will increase taxes next spring, but it satisfies a state deadline that Penn-Trafford will not seek an exemption from the state to exceed that rate.

By Chris Foreman
Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 10:57 a.m.

A multi-million-dollar remodeling project at Penn-Trafford High School is expected to be completed in nine phases, stretching from late spring of 2014 to late summer of 2016.

Though construction will happen while school is in session, consultants and school officials determined there will be enough space available in the 41-year-old building to move departments around as work proceeds instead of installing double-wide trailers to house classrooms temporarily, said Daniel Kiefer of Massaro CM Services, the district's construction manager.

The absence of trailers also will save Penn-Trafford about $150,000 in a project that the school board has agreed to cap at $32 million.

“It's going to be a very controlled and very well-thought-out process,” Kiefer said of transferring departments within the building.

Under the updated project timeline that Kiefer gave school board members Tuesday night, the board is expected to award contracts for general construction, plumbing, electrical and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning in May.

Contractors might begin setting up construction trailers by the baseball field later that month, followed by the beginning of work in early June, Kiefer said.

Among the proposed work is a remodeled auditorium with additional restrooms, storage for stage props and an expanded lobby; a renovated kitchen with new equipment; renovated gym and locker rooms and expanded pool deck; and the creation of a fine-arts wing.

The project also includes infrastructure improvements to the building; better lighting in the parking lots, new parking spaces, and a new bus loop.

Also related to the project, the school board this week authorized another consultant, Axis Architecture, to submit the next two stages of paperwork with the state for potential reimbursement for a portion of the construction.

State officials have placed a moratorium on reimbursement for new projects, but Penn-Trafford officials are hopeful it will be lifted so the district may be qualified for as much as 30 percent in reimbursements.

Hank Tkacik, owner of Axis, said he's heard that the state's reimbursement program might be solvent by the end of this year, but he hasn't heard any details about the reinstitution of funding for construction projects.

“You've done everything you need to do to ... ensure if money becomes available, you will be eligible for it,” Tkacik told the board.

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

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