Plans to renovate Mifflin?County Junior High School move forward

LEWISTOWN – Plans to renovate the Mifflin County Junior High School continued to move forward Thursday when the Mifflin County School District Board of Directors voted to submit Plan Con F documents, the latest in a series of plans required by the Pennsylvania State Department of Education to be eligible for partial reimbursement of the total project cost.

On hand at Thursday’s meeting were Vern McKissick, the district’s architect, Walter Tack of Reynolds Construction, who provided cost estimates for the project, and Brad Remig, managing director of Public Financial Management Inc. (PFM), who outlined a financing plan to pay for it all.

Tack noted Reynolds has received 90 percent of construction estimates and said, “The numbers look good.”

He estimated total cost of the project to be $17,210,000. Broken down, the numbers look like this: $239,000 for a new addition to the building, $12,978,000 in renovation work, $373,000 in site work, including Loop Drive, parking lots, sidewalk replacement, and lighting in the gymnasium. He also said the project would incur $3,620,000 in “soft costs,” money Tack said that doesn’t go to contractors, including professional fees, commissioning of the building, permit fees, utility company fees, legal fees and asbestos removal.

Tack said if the project receives final approval, which would come during the board’s Nov. 21 voting meeting, work at the school could begin as early as this December.

“Probably right after Christmas. The project should be finished by the summer of 2015,” he said.

McKissick said that with the passage of Plan Con F, he can now begin the bidding process.

“We’re looking at Oct. 8 for the bids to go out and have them back by November 5. We could award bids shortly after that,” he reported.

McKissick said the latest designs include adding air conditioning throughout the building. Classrooms, administration, a new entrance, extensive retrofitting of the auditorium, classroom renovation and new windows throughout are just some of the plans for the aging structure. He said the plan is also to add all new lighting in classrooms, with the exception of the 1992 section of he building, which he described as “still in fairly good condition.”

McKissick said Plan Con F is simply a cover sheet with detailed drawings and specifications that need to be filed with the Department of Education.

“This document includes calculations, schedules, room capacities, things like that. With that being said, we will not award any contracts without (Department of Education) approval,” he explained.

Remig said the timing of the project is good right now with regard to interest rates.

“The market has improved a little bit in the last few weeks, so that’s good,” he said.

Remig also reviewed a chart showing the current debt structure of the district and said that when moving forward it is important to put a financing plan in place that will not be a hindrance to the district’s budgeting plans.

He proposed two bond issues, one in 2013 and another in 2014, both for $9,995,000, with the bond sale and lock-in of interest rates to occur at the board’s Nov. 21 meeting, which gives the district a chance to review all contractor bids first.

Following Remig’s presentation, the board approved a resolution authorizing the administration to work with PFM as financial advisor, RBC Capital Markets as underwriter, Mette, Evans & Woodside as bond counsel, and Rhoads and Simon as solicitor to proceed with the issuance of general obligation bonds, series of 2013, for its capital program.

Also on Thursday, the board approved a resolution authorizing the sale of Union Elementary School to Union Township. The board also approved a resolution to begin the process of selling the Strodes Mills Middle School and the ground it sits on. No buyers have come forward as of yet, it was reported.

In other business Thursday, the board:

Approved a request from the Burnham Bulldogs to have the $500 fee at Mitchell Field waived for its special needs football Super Bowl on Sunday, Nov. 3.

Approved a recommendation to hire Mariann Filler as a full-time custodian at the high school for the 4 p.m. to midnight shift.

Approved a request from the Mifflin County Farm Bureau to hold a “Measure the Candidates” night at the high school October 22 and have the fee waived.

Hired Debra A. Yingling as a part-time cafeteria worker at the junior high school effective Sept. 23.

Accepted the resignation of Richelle Wallick, part-time cafeteria worker at the Career and Technology Center effective Aug. 23, and added her to the cafeteria substitute list.

Hired the following cafeteria staff: Tracy Bastress, MCHS; Dana Shank, MCHS; and Lori Liddick, CTC.

Added Patricia Bumgardner to the cafeteria substitute list.

Accepted the resignation of Rob Warner, technology teacher, effective at the end of the current school year, due to retirement.

Approved the following additions to the 2013-14 substitute teacher list: Jessica Milligan, elementary; Jarod Armstrong, general science; Allison Cleary, elementary; Abigail Conklin, music; Brandon Goss, social studies; Jillian Kochenderfer, elementary; Gretchen Miller, early childhood/special ed; Susan Smith, elementary; Sarah Walters, early childhood; Staci Brittain, elementary; and Lauren Hubbarb, social studies.

Deleted Lauranne Dulis from the teacher substitute list.

Hired Katlin Lewis as a full-time paraprofessional at the junior high school effective Sept. 11.

Deleted Betty Jo Knepp from the paraprofessional substitute list effective Sept. 5

Approved of the following volunteer coaches: Jamie Barrett-Fetters and Kevin Diven, both for bowling; David Sheetz, boys basketball; Greg Wilson, softball; Garry Price, wrestling; and Kyle Orndorf, bowling.

Approved a request for the varsity wrestling team to attend the Powerade Wrestling Tournament at Canon-McMillin High School on Dec. 26-28.