Union School Board Discusses Possible Major Improvements to School Facilities
In a presentation on Thursday, September 16, led by District Superintendent John Kimmel and Mark Brown, the supervisor of buildings and grounds, the following 14 possible projects were introduced to the school district to embark on as assessed by the McClure Company, a Harrisburg-based mechanical contractor and engineering firm:
- District wide envelope improvements
- Sligo Elementary exterior lighting upgrades
- High School LED lighting upgrades
- Sligo Elementary HVAC upgrades
- Sligo Elementary electrical system replacements
- Sligo Elementary fire alarm upgrade
- Sligo Elementary generator replacement (40 kw)
- Sligo Elementary generator replacement (200 kw)
- Sligo Elementary student/staff bathrooms
- Sligo Elementary window replacement
- High School water main replacement
- High School HVAC upgrades
- High School window replacements
- High School electrical switchgear upgrades and panelboard replacements
According to documents reviewed by exploreClarion.com, the total combined cost of all of the projects is $13,248,621.00, while total operational and energy savings for the district would amount to $2,663,217.00 over the course of 20 years.
One large item of concern for the board was the high school’s faulty boiler, which needs imminently replaced.
“Are we in agreement that we need to do the boiler right now?” asked School Board Member Brade Guntrum. “That’s what we need to focus on right now.”
“I’m afraid if we don’t address it, it is going to choose its time to go down at the most inopportune time when we may have to close school to have it repaired,” said Board President Brenda Brinker. “I think we need to be more aggressive and make a decision on this one.”
The Sligo Elementary School electrical system was also another point of concern raised by Board Member Jeff Shirey.
“I would go with the Sligo electrical because as I recall, we were talking about upgrading the heating system there,” said Shirey. “Well, you can have anything you want sitting there, but if the electric is not getting there, you’re in trouble.”
Brown added, “Personally, I wouldn’t upgrade the Sligo electrical system until it’s decided whether you’re going to use electrical heat or hot water heat because that will decide the size of your system.”
It was unclear, however, both how much the board is willing to spend and how much money they have to spend in the first place.
“I don’t know where you want to draw that line,” stated Steve Wiencek. “That depends on how much you want to do. But, you need to find a way to fund it. If you do it all, you have half a million dollars a year, plus the issuance if you’re going to do a bond. You can’t raise that in taxes. You can use some of your fund balance for a while, but you can’t pay for all of it.”
Kimmel agreed, stating, “We have to know how much we’re willing to get into debt. We need to know how much we’re willing to spend. It’s difficult. I think everybody has a difference of opinion as far as what we should spend money on. That’s where it’s really difficult for us to say in the administration what we can afford.”
The consensus of the board was to review the materials provided to them for discussion at the next board meeting scheduled for October 14.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the first readings of their Public Participation in Board Meetings and Meetings policies.
• Approved a motion to compensate transportation contractors at a rate of 78 percent their normal daily rate for each day of remote instruction in which the contractor does not provide services for the 2021-2022 school year.
• Approved the Cooperative Agreement between Mount Aloysius College and Union School District, where they provide programs in order to provide courses at the high school for which students may earn college credits. Tuition for the 2021-2022 school year will be $65.00 per credit and will be paid directly to the college by the high school student.
• Approved an agreement with The Reschini Group for the required mandated Affordable Care Act Reporting at an annual cost of $25,000.00.
• Approved Horizon Information Services to repair the high school PA system with costs not to exceed $6,000.00.
• Approved the following after-school tutors at a rate of $25.00 per hour: Josh Meeker, Katie Hibbard, and Cindy Culp.
• Approved the hiring of Courtney Gross as Special Education Teacher, effective September 27, at Step 1 of the Bachelor salary scale of the Union Education Association Agreement.
• Approved Chelsey Morris as PTO volunteer/chaperone.
• Approved a memo of understanding with the Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission for district participation in the Pennsylvania Youth Survey.
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