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Connellsville senior high project should be completed next month

| Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, 7:06 a.m.

Connellsville Area School District is projecting the senior high school construction/renovation project will cost an estimated $51.2 million and will be completed next month.

Business manager Gene Cunningham gave administrators, school board members, teachers and parents a financial update on the ongoing project at Wednesday night's board meeting.

Cunningham said the school district has already paid $45.7 for the renovation, but it still has $5.5 million in available funding to complete the project.

“We currently have a $45,000 surplus that will decrease with the change orders that we approved tonight,” Cunningham said. “We're right on schedule with the funding for the project.”

Cunningham explained that the school district is financing the project through three bond issues, which will take about 20 years to pay off.

“A lot of the work has already been completed, and we're in the process of paying the construction manager and architects who worked on the project,” he said.

John Pappas of Eckles Construction Services Inc. updated the district on the work that has been completed.

“As we discussed at the last board meeting, school started as planned,” Pappas said. “The tech-ed wing renovations were completed to the point to allow the instructors to finalize their equipment locations. The contractors have been working second shift to complete the connections for this equipment.”

Pappas said the gymnasium flooring and sealer installation were completed to allow for the bleacher installation. The bleachers should be completed next week when the floor graphics and final coats of sealer will be installed.

“The exterior curtain wall and glazing are being installed to close in the natatorium,” he said. “The pool tile installation also began this week, and the pool contractor will be back on site next week to begin preparations for the new liner.”

Pappas said the goal is to install the pool liner before the end of September, when the district can begin the process of filling the pool and getting the water balanced.

Exterior site work continues, Pappas said, adding that the goal is to have the work completed by Sept. 30. This will include the stairs leading to the Career and Technical Center, the exterior ramp and site walls.

In other business, the Rev. Ewing Marietta, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church and a Connellsville resident, asked the district to consider arming school security guards in an effort to protect students in case of an emergency situation.

Solicitor Christopher Stern said board members have discussed the issue but have been unable to arm the district's security guards because of Pennsylvania laws that would require the guards to complete special police training. That, he said, would cost the district a lot of money.

Mike Parlak, who is in charge of the school district's security, said even if the district spent money to send school police to the State Police Municipal Police Officers Training Academy for Act 120, the officers would have to take a job with a municipal police department to get their MPT number activated because the state doesn't recognize school districts as a department and in that case the district would lose quality trained people to higher paying municipal jobs.

Cindy Ekas is a contributing writer.

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