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Elderton school plans ready for public review

| Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010

ELDERTON — Detailed plans for the Elderton High School and Elementary School renovations and additions are available for review and comment before and after a scheduled hearing next week.

The Armstrong School District will hold a public hearing on the plans, as required by the state Department of Education, at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 20 in the Elderton High School gym. However, details of the project are available now in the district administration building.

The purpose of the hearing is for the administration, architects and financial consultants to explain the scope of the work, including aspects such as educational, physical, administrative, budgetary and financial matters relating to the project.

According to the project description booklet created for the hearing by architects L.R. Kimball and Associates, both buildings are in need of renovations "by virtue of their age, ADA deficiencies, and changes in programs and education philosophy since they were last renovated nearly 30 years ago in 1980."

In July, Kimball presented the board, which voted in December 2009 to reopen the high school, with two options for the Elderton project, including renovating both schools and keeping Kittanning Township Elementary open and the chosen plan, which includes the closure of Kittanning Township.

According to the booklet, four main factors were considered when determining which option to choose. The need to consolidate buildings as a cost-saving measure, a separate gymnasium and cafeteria in the elementary building, a separate gymnasium and auditorium in the high school, classroom renovations, a new nurse's suite, new administrative offices and handicap accessibility were all used in the planning.

The school board authorized a maximum project cost of $23.3 million, which includes maximum construction costs of $8.8 million for the new portions of the buildings.

The district is expected to realize a total annual savings of $754,800 by closing Kittanning Township Elementary and renovating the Elderton complex, according to the booklet. The savings would include reducing the staff by 3.2 teachers and one school nurse, a reduction in phone and Internet services, decreased maintenance and repair costs and utility and sewage treatment savings.

Kittanning Township Elementary, under the board's plan, is slated to close at the end of the school year. However, the board has taken no official vote to close the school or hold a required public hearing on the school's closing.

According to procedures for public comments at the hearing, written questions and comments submitted prior to the hearing will be read first, followed by written questions and comments submitted during the hearing, then by comments from audience members. Each speaker will be allotted three minutes.

Those wishing to submit written comments or questions before the hearing can do so by sending them to the school board secretary by noon Oct. 19.

After the hearing date, the public has 30 days to submit written comments for consideration. Those comments must be submitted to the superintendent's office by 4 p.m. Nov. 19.

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