State College school board meeting to review high school renovation project

Officials will need residents to approve plan in referendum

mdawson@centredaily.comNovember 12, 2012 

State College Area School District officials know one thing is for sure about the upcoming high school renovation and construction project: Because of the expected cost to pay for it, the district will have to ask voters to approve the project in a referendum, sometime during the 2013-14 school year.

District officials realize the importance of the referendum question, which would be worded so residents vote either yes or no.

A no vote could send years worth of work on the project back to the drawing board, so school administrators and board members want to make sure community members know everything about the project before they are asked to fill in a bubble on their ballot.

Tonight will be one of those opportunities.

The upcoming high school building project will be the topic of the school board’s work session tonight at 7:30 in the boardroom of the State College Area administration building on Nittany Avenue. The meeting will be broadcast live, too, on C-NET, Channel 98.

In an email last week to parents in the district, Superintendent Bob O’Donnell previewed tonight’s meeting and said the district was committed to having the residents active throughout the project’s development.

“We all need to work together and determine the best direction for our community in order to realize updated facilities,” he wrote. “We will provide multiple avenues for community members to engage with us and to monitor all aspects of this process, including important face-to-face conversations and social media tools.”

At the meeting, the school board and administrators are expected to discuss the steps in the project as well as budgets, timetables for when steps will take place and strategies for getting the community involved.

The board will have a public comment period after the discussions tonight have wrapped up.

The architects from Crabtree Rohrbaugh and the educational planner from BrainSpaces Inc. will attend the work session and be part of the discussions. They will be in town to take tours of the high school buildings and hold meetings with officials.

O’Donnell said in the email to parents that the architects will need to get an understanding of how the buildings’ space is used. He also said the architects will explore other sites as possible scenarios.

The district hired Crabtree Rohrbaugh for $279,500. BrainSpaces was hired for $78,000 to consult on how the educational programs mesh with the design of the high school.

The last high school building project, about $102 million, was scrapped in May 2007 after bids came in over budget and a majority of board members who supported the project were voted out.

Those who cannot attend tonight’s meeting can submit their comments online to the district.

Visit www.scasd.org/Page/1268 for more information on the high school project.

Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT.

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