The renovations at Radio Park Elementary School, planned for the 2018-19 school year, could result in a group of students being temporarily displaced, according to State College Area School District officials.
The renovations are part of the districtwide elementary schools project, which includes renovations to Radio Park and Corl Street, and the construction of a new Houserville Elementary School, which would combine students from the current Houserville and Lemont schools.
In June, the school board approved the 60 percent plans for the project based on cost estimates submitted by Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, an architectural firm from Mechanicsburg.
The base plan for Radio Park would include three classrooms per grade and will cost an estimated $21.1 million. The district is also considering an alternate plan that would include four classrooms per grade and would cost about $22.5 million.
Ed Poprik, director of physical plant, said the phasing of the project under both plans would begin with new construction, and upon completion, the students would be moved into the new section, leaving the existing original portion of the building to be renovated.
If the district chooses the less-expensive, three-classroom per grade option, the completed new construction would not be large enough to hold all of the children during the renovation of the original footprint of the school, Poprik said.
That would result in about 120 children having to be moved to another school during the 2018-19 school year, according to Poprik.
Vernon Bock, assistant superintendent, said the children would likely be bussed to another school, but because Corl Street and Houserville Elementary schools will also be undergoing renovations, the options are limited.
What will happen to the students at the school they are transported to is also under discussion, according to Bock.
The district is considering incorporating the students into the classrooms of one of the elementary schools that is not being renovated or educating the children in a temporary trailer installed on the property of one of those schools, Bock said.
Due to size of the construction zone that will be fenced off at Radio Park and code requirements based on fire protection, Bock said additional temporary trailers at the school is not an option.
“We really are in early discussion around this,” Bock said. “I want to make sure from the educational standpoint that we’re also considering the option that would be the least disruptive to the students who are being displaced and also least disruptive to the school where the students are being displaced to.”
The Radio Park project is eligible for the state’s PlanCon school reimbursement program, according to Randy Brown, finance and operations officer for the district. Under the program, the reimbursement dollar amount is based on the number of educational square footage constructed.
If the district chooses the more expensive option that adds classrooms and prevents displacement, Brown said the total reimbursement amount would raise and construction cost would increase by about $750,000.
The district is holding a community forum at 7 p.m. Aug. 17 in the Panorama Village Administrative Center boardroom. At the forum, the board will present to the public the 90 percent plans with updated cost estimates and engage in a question-and-answer session.
The board is expected to vote on the final plans in November.