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Plum school officials focus on district building improvements

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Painting, paving, roof replairs and door and window replacements are on a list of about $15 million in building improvements planned over the next decade in the Plum School District.

The Plum School Board facilities committee last week reviewed a list of projects. About $9 million of the total could be spent over the next five years.

Michael Brewer, the district's director of administrative services, generated the list from information provided by various departments.

“The district has ignored facility repairs over the last several years and mixed capital and operating expenses,” said board President Andrew Drake. “Money was stripped out to balance the budgets in previous years.”

Earlier this year, the board approved a combination of borrowing and refinancing that is expected to glean $15 million for the district. The money is expected to be used for construction of the new Holiday Park Elementary School and facility improvements.

Also, the board placed $2.5 million from the district's reserves into a fund for capital improvements last year. Drake said the capital improvement fund contains about $25 million.

About $1.1 million of capital improvement money is earmarked for projects in the current school year including nearly $500,000 for technology upgrades, $350,000 for buying school buses and $62,500 for repairs at Center Elementary School.

About $2.5 million is estimated to be spent in 2014-15, according to the spreadsheet of projects.

The largest budgeted expense is $450,000 for an air conditioning system for Center Elementary School. The bulk of the remaining $2.5 million is scheduled to be spent on projects including roof restorations, stadium bleacher and fencing upgrades, door repairs and painting at Plum High School.

Also, a large portion of the money — about $700,000 — is planned to be spent on bus purchases as well as painting, paving, lighting and cameras and facility upgrades at the district's transportation department. Equipment upgrades including cameras and global positioning systems also are planned for the buses.

“All the buses need cameras and GPS,” said board member Sal Colella.

“We've got to catch up on these projects,” Drake said.

Superintendent Timothy Glasspool said Regency Park Elementary School also needs repairs.

The list of projects and associated costs also shows about $1.7 million planned for improvements to the Plum elementary school with the fewest students, about 250. Projects scheduled for the 2014-15 school year include replacing exterior doors, upgrading the lighting system, restrooms and lockers and replacing a hot water tank.

Large-ticket items including paving driveways and parking lots, upgrading the electrical systems, replacing windows, installing air conditioning and replacing the roof tentatively are scheduled for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.

Superintendent Timothy Glasspool said the board needs to decide about the future of the school before signing on to the larger improvements.

“All the systems (in the school) are at the end of their life,” Glasspool said.

Board members have said they plan in the next couple years to decide whether to close the school.

Glasspool emphasized the anticipated costs for the all the projects are estimates.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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