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5-year plan details upkeep, repair of schools

| Sunday, Jan. 20, 2002

Carson and Ingomar middle schools could get almost $11.3 million in maintenance and repairs under a five-year program the North Allegheny School District's administration has introduced.

The program is part of the administration's proposed capital funding plan that projects spending a total of $16.9 million over the next five years for maintenance and repair of the district's buildings, as well as installation of door monitoring and card key systems at the elementary schools, vehicle purchases and information technology and phone system upgrades.

The large sum being proposed for Carson and Ingomar middle schools, said Rob Gaertner, the district's facilities manager, "is a minimal investment to keep the buildings in good condition and in some semblance of up-to-date technology."

Those repairs and renovations, however, could be reduced if the board decides to move forward with another plan Gaertner is proposing that calls for a feasibility study for construction projects at both schools.

The board on Wednesday is scheduled to consider a proposal to hire a consultant to make recommendations on additions to Carson and Ingomar middle schools, the last two buildings in the district that have not undergone any major remodeling. The school board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at Carson Middle School Cafeteria, 200 Hillvue Lane, McCandless.

Gaertner laid out a time line calling for the study to begin in April and conclude by September. A month later, he proposes to outline a scope for the board, have the board's approval by January 2003 and begin construction by June 2004, with a completion in September 2005.

"If we start (the study) too much longer than that, we have the potential to lose the construction season of 2004. I'd rather be in a position to use the summer construction season than lose it," he said.

Mike Hopkins, the district's manager of financial services, said the administration is proposing to finance the repairs from the general, capital reserve and construction funds.

The administration's capital plan is front-end loaded with the bulk of the expenditures occurring in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 school years.

For the 2002-03 school year, the administration is proposing spending:

= $205,000 for the door monitoring and card key system at all seven elementary schools.

= $125,000 for the replacement of a 1,000-foot natural gas main line at North Allegheny Intermediate High School.

= $70,000 for the replacement of the public address system at the intermediate high school.

= $35,000 for carpet replacement in the Bradford Woods Elementary School classrooms.

= $25,000 for the first phase of locker replacement at the intermediate high school.

The other big-ticket items include $150,000 for the replacement of servers and switches and the replacement of phone software and the addition of voice mail for three schools.

Roger Botti, manager of transportation and assets, also is seeking the board's go-ahead to sign a seven-year lease for 14 large school buses, five medium school buses, three small buses, a nine-passenger van and five support vehicles.

Hopkins said the district has the ability to save $16,000 in interest costs and another $138,000 in a payment due on prior leases through a tentative agreement it has to roll those past leases into the one being proposed by Botti.

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