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ASD administration building on way out

| Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

The administration building appears to be next on Armstrong School District's chopping block.

The school board reviewed a proposal to do away with the aging building Thursday night during the same meeting directors voted to keep its current leadership in place another year.

As the board continues moving forward with its cost-cutting building consolidation plan that's already closed two schools, Superintendent Stan Chapp said there's a proposal to move the roughly 35 employees of the administration building on the corner of Main Street and Pleasantview Drive in Manor to West Hills Primary School in East Franklin.

According to district documents, Sheetz Inc. has made an offer to ASD to buy the administration building and its 1.18 acre site for $412,000.

The board is expected to vote on the matter during its meeting Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the library of West Hills Primary.

The location of that meeting was moved to the school so directors could take a closer look at the proposed alterations to the facility.

Chapp said the district only stands to gain by closing the administration building, which is in desperate need of a new roof and façade among other costly repairs.

“We have an opportunity to consolidate operations,” said Chapp.

“By closing this building, we could save around $10,000 a year just in utility costs. And we think we can actually make a little profit by putting money back into the general fund.”

Chapp was optimistic the administration could be moved to West Hills without disrupting its current 700 students and 48 teachers.

“We've been working very closely with (principal) Paula Berry and (facilities director) Bill Henley on this matter,” said Chapp. “We believe we can make this work.”

Berry echoed the sentiment when she presented the board with a map of the school showing several spaces that could easily be repurposed into administration workspaces.

“There's options for room if this occurs,” she said. “We have all the classrooms that we would need being placed with enough room (along with the administration staff) for 2013-14. If enrollment does go up, there's space for that increase.”

Berry said there are several rooms currently being used for the likes of gifted services, occupational and physical therapy, health classes and custodial offices that only host a handful of students at a time. She was confident the change wouldn't affect the curriculum if it occurred next year, and was fairly certain it wouldn't be a problem down the road.

“That's hard to speculate,” she said. “I don't know what our kindergarten enrollment will be for this year, so I don't know what it will be for first grade two years from now. But if enrollment does go up, there's space for that increase.”

Chapp agreed that the situation at West Hills seems ideal.

“There's a lot of flexibility in terms of the layout and how much space is there,” he said. “A lot of things can be re-configured.”

In the meantime, the board was unanimous in the decision for president Joe Close and vice president Chris Choncek to retain their positions. Both were elected last December, and the directors voted 8-0 on both titles during its annual organization meeting. There were no other nominees.

Linda Walker also was re-elected to represent ASD on the Joint Operating Committee at Lenape Tech and Larry Robb will remain the board's liaison to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

After the meeting, Close said he feels good about the direction of the board.

“It's been a great group to work with,” he said. “Everyone works together and only has the best interest of this district in mind with each decision. I'm hopeful that will continue into the next year.”

In other news:

• The directors will vote on Monday to allow its bond counsel to look into refinancing its 2006 bond in the amount of roughly $13 million. Randy Frederick of Piper Jaffray said the district stands to benefit from historically low interest rates and could see savings of more than $400,000 (or about 4 percent) on the issue. Frederick pointed to the district's recent success refinancing a 2003 bond in the amount of about $7 million. He said ASD realized $350,000 or close to 4.8 percent in net savings.

• L.R. Kimball project manager Brian Hayes presented the board with an update on the soft costs of the construction of ASD's new high school in Manor. Referencing an October estimate of $3.8 million, Hayes revealed that the district has spent about $788,000 —or 20 percent — of that and said, “Everything up to now is running on schedule.”

The board will vote on Monday to authorize a proposal to stake trees at the site and to allow for traffic signal engineering at the intersection of Buffington Drive and Route 422.

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

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