State College

SCASD recommends renovations/additions over new elementary construction

The State College Area School District recommended the repurposing of Lemont and additions/renovations at Radio Park, Houserville and Corl Street.
The State College Area School District recommended the repurposing of Lemont and additions/renovations at Radio Park, Houserville and Corl Street. Centre Daily Times, file

The list of remaining options for potential elementary school projects in the State College Area School District may be shrinking sooner rather than later as the school board continues to weigh the pros and cons of renovations/additions versus new construction.

An analysis conducted by the architectural firm of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates surmised that new construction at both Houserville Elementary and Radio Park Elementary would collectively cost nearly $4 million more than additions or renovations.

During a regular meeting of the SCASD board Monday evening, the district recommended that three of the four remaining scenarios for possible elementary school projects — all including some form of new construction — be removed from consideration.

Should the board follow through on the district’s recommendation, the sole remaining option on the table would call for additions/renovations at Radio Park, Houserville and Corl Street and the repurposing of Lemont.

According to the project’s lead architect, Jeffrey Straub, the existing floor plans to both Radio Park and Houserville lend themselves toward renovation, retaining the buildings’ original shells while updating the interiors.

“Houserville (is) very accommodating. Radio Park, it is achievable, but a very tight site,” Straub said.

Classroom, cafeteria and kitchen space in both buildings can be utilized and upgraded with new flooring, ceilings and mechanical systems.

At Radio Park, the amount of renovation/addition work involved would total 31,000 square feet and cost approximately $19 million. That price tag would increase by $2,469,300 should the board opt to pursue new construction instead.

At Houserville, a total of 16,500 square feet is marked for renovation/addition, also at a cost of approximately $19 million. New construction would add $1,594,950 to the cost of the project.

Each building is roughly 70,000 square feet in its entirety.

Amber Concepcion, board president, said that it would be helpful if the district could provide the board with a list of pros and cons for new construction versus addition/renovation.

“Do you get a more durable building for 30 years from now?” Concepcion asked.

The board is scheduled to make its final selection for a plan regarding elementary projects on Nov. 14, but that decision could arrive as soon as the meeting scheduled for Oct. 24.

“The design team would love that extra three weeks but it’s not a make or break,” Randy Brown, SCASD business administrator, told the board.

Another community forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 17 at Mount Nittany Middle School.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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