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Regular meeting of the Board of School Directors - August 10, 2015


Aug. 11, 2015


Sara Brennen

SCASD Website and Social Media Coordinator


Regular Meeting of the SCASD Board of Directors August 10, 2015

Summer Construction Delay

    Because of heavy early summer rain, the State High Project summer site work project, or SP 15, is expected to extend into the school year.

    SP15 has focused on building a loop road to the South Building rear, which will become the main entrance during the school year while the front is closed off for demolition and other work.

    But the discovery of “soft soils” —  spots where proof rolling of the final grade fails to yield a base firm enough for stone and paving courses to be applied — mean that workers can’t finish by the contracted completion date in time for the first day of school. The new date could be near the end of September.

    Consequently, the project team and the district administration are working on an alternate bus circulation, parking and building entry plan. At present, district administrators expect to continue using the South Building’s current bus loop, front parking lot and main entrance — with some adjustments related to the main office’s move to near the fitness center — until the back entrance is ready.

    The project team will share final details at the Aug. 24 Board meeting.

    The soil issue could raise the potential SP15 cost to about $1.8 milliona $175,000 increase from the original estimate. Because the project bid included remediation as a unit cost, no Board action will be required on the potential change order.

State High Project Calendar Revisions

Both the State High Project bid award day and anticipated completion date face possible adjustments because of delayed construction documents.

As Director of Physical Plant Ed Poprik explained, Crabtree Rohrbaugh and Associates, the SHP architect, expects to complete its construction documents and an associated estimate by Aug. 24, but Massaro Construction Management Services will need an additional 4 weeks to complete an estimated cost based on the finished documents.  As a result, the design team will recommend calendar changes to the Board. Under the proposed revisions, CRA would present its construction documents and estimate at an Aug. 31 special meeting instead of an Aug. 24 regular meeting; MCMS will take four weeks for estimating and final document review; bids would open on Nov. 10; and the bid award day will move from Oct. 19 to Nov. 23.

Accordingly, MCMS is revising the construction phasing plan. It now looks as though the entire project will be extended four to eight months beyond the original September 2018 completion date.

“The project hasn’t gotten longer — it’s just shifted,” said Poprik. “Our number one goal is getting it right — by assuring good bids and quality contracts.”

SCASD Board of Directors Names Curtis Johnson State High Interim Principal

On Monday, the State College Area School District Board of Directors approved Curtis Johnson to become interim principal of State College Area High School, replacing Scott DeShong.

Johnson was the associate principal under DeShong, who is leaving SCASD to accept a position with the Avon Grove School District in West Grove, Pa. DeShong will be the new Avon Grove High School principal.

Additionally, board members approved another SCASD administration recommendation, naming Kathy Pechtold as interim associate principal. Pechtold previously had been assistant principal.

“I am grateful to CJ, Kathy and the high school administrative team, faculty and staff for their work to prepare for the upcoming school year in light of the many district initiatives, including the high school bell schedule change and construction project,” SCASD Superintendent Bob O’Donnell said in a letter last week to district faculty and staff.

DeShong, a State High graduate, concludes 21 and a half years with the district, the last three leading the high school. At the helm, he played key roles in the successful State High referendum campaign for a new high school, and then the design process during the 2014-15 school year leading to the start of construction this summer. His contributions included serving on the educational model planning team and bell schedule committee.

“Scott has had a very positive impact on many students and teachers within our school district, as his work included leadership experiences at elementary, middle and high school levels,” O’Donnell said.

“Because of his leadership and hard work, he is a key reason why our high school project is moving forward. I will miss working with Scott very much. He is a wonderful educator and an even better person.”

Prior to becoming State High’s principal, DeShong was the principal of Houserville/Lemont Elementary School for four years, assistant principal of Mount Nittany Middle School for three years and an elementary and high school counselor for 11 and a half years.

His final day with the district is Aug. 24.
    “Although we are saddened to lose Scott, we truly wish him and his family the best,” O’Donnell said. “Scott has been a wonderful colleague to us and role model for many kids in the community.”

The district will conduct both internal and external searches for candidates, as well as advertise an Interim Dean of Students position expected to be in place for one semester.

District Financing Information

The board received the results from a bond sale held in July. Representatives from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch and NW FInancial Group shared that district bonds were sold in the amount of $21.5 million at a savings in financing costs of $1.2 million. The financing cost savings will result in reduced debt service costs for the district in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 fiscal years. District administration recommended that these savings be transferred to the capital reserve fund for future facility costs. The board heard that the district’s strong credit rating added to the success of the bond transaction.

The administration provided the board with an update to the capital financing plan. The update reflected the administration’s recommendation to transfer the savings in financing costs from the recent bond sale in the capital planning update. This transfer will provide additional resources for the capital needs of the district. The administration discussed how the current capital plan funds the State High Project, as most recently estimated in cost at approximately $128 million. The projections show available funds, should the board commit resources for bid alternates and/or additional renovation costs for the North Building not included in the project currently estimated at $8.2 million. The administration told the board they continue to plan for future projects at the elementary and middle levels, in addition to Memorial Field. Since the timing of projects beyond the State High Project is not yet known, the administration presented total fund capacity in the capital reserve fund for remaining projects. Further updates to the board are expected as facility planning continues.