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Armstrong to submit school construction plan to state

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

The Armstrong School District board of directors took a seemingly small, but important bureaucratic step toward building its proposed high school.

During the board's regular meeting on Monday night, the directors voted 6-1 to authorize the architects at L.R. Kimball to submit PlanCon Part D and E to the state Department of Education for approval.

Region III director Royce Smeltzer was the only opponent. Jim Rearic and Larry Robb were absent.

PlanCon D is the project accounting based on estimates and PlanCon E is the design development for the proposed 7-12 school to be built off Buffington Drive in Manor.

The authorization officially closes the Act 34 process that began with a public hearing at Kittanning Senior High School on Sept. 5.

Solicitor Lee Price said once PDE approves the plans, the district will be able to begin accepting bids on the project.

Board president Joe Close said all of the architects' estimates line up with the numbers originally proposed for the project, and stresses that the budget is key with this construction.

“This project is a little backwards,” said Close after the meeting. “We didn't design the school and then go out to fund it. This money has been borrowed for a couple years now and we've already been making payments on it. So right now, we're just making sure we're getting the best building we can with the money we already planned on.”

The board also voted to take formal action on refinancing its 2003 general obligation bond with a principal balance of $7.3 million. Bond counsel Randy Frederick of Piper Jaffray told the board during a meeting last month that historically low market levels could lead to a net savings of over $300,000.

“That's going to save us some money,” said Close. “It will yield us savings with no change to the installments. We're really taking advantage of all angles to try to save wherever we can.”

The board is next set to meet in November.

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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