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Renovations set at Penn-Trafford

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By Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Renovation of Penn-Trafford High School is slated to begin at the end of this school year, kicking off a three-year project that could total $32 million.

Contractor Massaro Corp. outlined construction plans and costs to school board members on Tuesday.

The nine-phase construction project would continue through September 2016, said Daniel Kiefer, Massaro's director of preconstruction.

Costs are broken down as $5.2 million for “soft costs,” such as architectural and engineering fees, and $26.2 million for “hard costs,” including materials and equipment.

School directors have committed about $19 million in bonds — $9.4 million last year and $10 million last month. Borrowing is done in increments of about $10 million, interim Superintendent Matt Harris said.

Officials will look at alternatives, which could lower the costs, Harris said.

They intend to pay off the debt over 17 years without raising taxes specifically for construction.

Shaun Rinier, who represents the Penn-Trafford Education Association, questioned why leaders didn't wait to borrow money until the governor's race ends. A new governor might restore funds for school construction projects, he said.

“I don't see that (Gov. Tom) Corbett does a whole lot for public education in any facet,” Rinier said. “If there's a new person in there, there might be many more positives.”

By starting now, however, directors are able to take advantage of “almost unprecedented bond rates,” board member Dallas Leonard said.

Plus, architect Hank Tkacik said, leaders have positioned themselves properly to receive reimbursement if funds become available.

The school board this week approved about $78,000 in planning expenses for the project, broken down among several companies. That includes geotechnical testing and topographic and aerial mapping.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or

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