State High project plan nearly one-third complete

The stage is set as State High project designers draw near the first major milestone in their plans.

Ed Poprik, State College Area School District’s director of physical plant, laid out a schedule for reviews of the project architect’s 30 percent complete designs at Monday’s school board meeting. Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates is the architectural company designing the project.

Poprik said the board will be presented with a 30 percent design review Oct. 13. Additionally, high school staff will review the designs Oct. 17. On Oct. 29, students will review the designs and a public forum will be held, and on Nov. 3 a work session will take place.

A vote to approve the 30 percent design plans will take place at the board’s Nov. 10 meeting.

Poprik said a vote to approve the 30 percent designs would not commit the school district to those exact plans. Rather, reviews and input from students, school staff, the school board and community members would be considered by the architects to be implemented for review when designs are 60 percent complete.

Reviews for the 60 percent milestone are scheduled to begin in December, and a vote to approve the 60 percent design plans is scheduled for February.

Poprik and Superintendent Bob O’Donnell also reviewed the Subcommittee for Communication’s Sept. 17 meeting, which was held to discuss how to effectively communicate updates to visitors of the State High project website.

Poprik and O’Donnell said the discussion reaffirmed the idea that student feedback was important and will continue to be received throughout the project. The subcommittee also brainstormed the possibility of hosting a live chat with the project’s designers at the 60 percent design review later this year. The subcommittee also brought up the idea of implementing a blog to provide timely updates on the project.

The board also received a presentation from NW Financial Group representatives Tom Beckett and Dave Eckhart.

They presented options to refinance the school district’s bonds from 2009 and 2010 to save money over time. Beckett and Eckhart suggested a competitive sale of the bonds to try to drive up the sale price at lower interest rates. They also said a competitive sale would likely result in a quicker transaction than a negotiated sale.

Beckett and Eckhart projected the competitive sales of the two bonds would save the school district about $384,000. The board will decide at a later meeting whether or not to refinance the bonds.

The school board also discussed the possibility of extending elementary school days by 30 to 40 minutes.

O’Donnell and Jason Perrin, the K-8 assistant superintendent, said they would first amend a survey presented to the board to be sent out to parents of K-4 students for input into whether or not to explore the possibility of adding 30 to 40 minutes to elementary school days.

The survey will be distributed Thursday and will remain open until Oct. 10 at 5 p.m.