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Armstrong School District begins work on new high school

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By Tim Karan
Friday, May 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Looks like there's no turning back now.

Contractors for Armstrong School District have begun construction on the district's new 7-12 high school off Buffington Drive in Manor Township, according to Todd Buzard of Reynolds Construction Management.

Buzard introduced the school board to project manager Roshelle Fennell during its open caucus session on Thursday evening.

“We have gotten started,” said Fennell.

“The contractor is up there clearing trees, cutting them up and hauling them off site. (We've also started) construction of the temporary road leading to the (construction site).”

Fennell said much of the heavy lifting can't begin until builders meet with the Armstrong Conservation District early next week.

“That's the first thing we need to do before we really start moving any dirt up there,” she said. “We also met with some utilities (companies) and our trailer is going to be up there on Monday, I believe. Things are moving well. We're getting things started and in order.”

Fennell said bids were opened for companies to conduct on-site tests including soil, masonry, fireproofing and steel inspections and Reynolds recommends using Professional Service Industries Inc. (PSI).

“We had budgeted about $250,000 for testing, but the bids came in at about $100,000,” said Fennell.

“That amount could be more or less depending on the amount of testing we have to do and the soil testing is a very important part of the project. We'll do as much testing as possible to make sure everything is installed properly.”

In addition, Superintendent Stan Chapp said the administration has been working with PennDOT to improve the intersection at the bottom of Old Route 422 (Indiana Pike Hill) and South Water Street to handle heavier traffic.

“We'll need two left-turning lanes coming out of Kittanning and some work will need to be done in the immediate future,” said Chapp.

“In exchange for a partnership between Manor Township and the school district, PennDOT will do the lane improvements as long as we take over maintenance of the stoplights. This can potentially save us about $150,000 or more on our construction costs and the light maintenance costs will be around $2,000 to $3,000 per year, perhaps less.”

The board also will also vote during its regular meeting Monday evening to authorize Chapp to approve any change orders that arise during construction of the school that necessitate action before the next regular school board meeting.

The district is mandated to have a representative in place so as not hold up construction.

If approved, Chapp would be able to make those decisions as long as the change orders don't exceed $10,000 and have been reviewed and recommended by the district's architect and construction manager.

The board will ratify any change order approved by Chapp at an advertised public meeting and reserves the right to amend the resolution at any time.

The 800-day construction project is expected to wrap up in June 2015.

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

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