Frazier residents get details on school project

| Friday, May 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Residents of the Frazier School District in Perryopolis got their first chance to look at the district's upcoming construction project and to review its costs during a public hearing Wednesday in the high school auditorium.

David Blozowich, district superintendent, provided some background into the condition of the buildings and the reasons for picking a new combination elementary/middle school as opposed to renovating Perry and Central elementary schools, one middle school or other options.

Some options were not available, Blozowich said.

The current middle school — a three-story, wood-frame structure — was constructed in 1929 and renovated in 1957. Because of the fire hazard and the lack of amenities for disabled individuals, it is not likely that the state Department of Education would approve any rehabilitation, he explained. That building is also in need of a new roof.

Perry Elementary, built in 1973, also has issues with drainage, its roof and the lack of proper amenities. All of the buildings need upgrades of windows and doors to increase energy efficiency. Central Elementary, built in 1971, needs similar upgrades, he said.

Mark Scheller of Eckles Architecture went over plans for the new building.

He said it would be constructed between the present Perry Elementary and Route 51, feature classroom layouts that would separate the elementary and middle school areas, and sport an enhanced layout to increase building security. The classrooms would be built in two-story sections. School bus parking and the drop-off and pickup areas for the buses would be separate from the drop-off area for parents.

According to Scheller, classrooms would be arranged to group each grade in a specific area, allowing teachers and administrators to manage their classrooms more efficiently. Middle school and elementary students would enter the building via separate entrances on either side of an office/administration area. Cafeteria and library areas would share staff but would keep middle and elementary students separate. There would be separate gymnasium and recreation areas as well.

Today's Frazier Elementary has had potential drainage problems. The construction of the new building would feature enhanced drainage provisions below the floor.

The two-story classroom sections would allow for all classrooms to have windows.

Scheller presented initial project estimates, including all of the potential costs.

“This is the total project cost, $24,500,000,” said Scheller, after reviewing all of the projected costs. “This is the highest that we can imagine the number (total project cost.)”

He reminded the audience that the project has not been bid, but added that those involved have worked to make sure they did not underestimate the costs.

Robert T. Aumer of Janny Capital Markets went over the financing methods for the project, breaking down the different ways to finance the project, ending with the cost to taxpayers in increased mills.

According to Aumer, the cost to the taxpayers would be approximately 1.86 mills.

He said the financing was worked out to keep the costs to the taxpayers as low as possible. He said the district had borrowed $20 million toward the project cost in 2012. He said the additional balance to be financed would be about $4,925,000, depending on the results of the bidding.

Resident Marjorie Hygak asked several questions about how students would be handled during the project and how they would be bused, once in the new school.

Resident Lou Giovannelli wanted more information on his cost for $100,000 of assessment. He also asked more in-depth questions on the drainage of the ground and of how water was to be moved away during heavy rains.

Scheller, with permission from Blozowich, answered the drainage questions in detail.

Giovannelli later said he hoped the project costs would not exceed the estimates, since he observed they usually did, once the project was completed.

Resident Tracey Angelo, a parent with a child who has asthma, asked about mold and other allergens. Scheller said project planners, while finding some indications of water problems, found no mold.

Resident Christine Attanucci then asked how soon ground could be broken.

Scheller went over the steps yet to be done. He said construction probably would begin in September.

Karl Polacek is a reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-626-3538.

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