Peters Township High School entrance

Harry Funk/The Almanac

The main entrance to the current high school

The latest estimate to renovate Peters Township High School for use as a middle school stands at slightly more than $14.3 million.

The figure emerged during the school board’s Nov. 4 buildings and grounds committee meeting, as board members discussed how to proceed on certain aspects of the project, which is to take place in time for seventh- and eighth-graders to occupy the current high school building starting with the 2021-22 academic year.

In the meantime, work progresses on the new high school on the site of the former Rolling Hills Country Club. The plan is for students and staff members to move into the building at the start of 2021, after work can begin on the middle school conversion.

Board members have been working on whittling down costs, which were estimated at $16.8 million following the September buildings and grounds committee meeting. At that point, the board was presented with an extensive list of “facility improvement measures” to be considered as part of a base bid for the project.

The estimate for the measures deemed to be necessary has dropped from $12.4 million to $11.3 million, according to Garrett Lewis, vice president of hybrid construction for multi-services firm Reynolds Solutions, construction manager for the new high school project.

A major factor in the lower figure involves opting not to replace the current high school’s pneumatic control system, which uses compressed air as a method of control for the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.

“That number has come down substantially, roughly $800,00 from that line item,” Lewis said.

Further savings derive from the decision to cool the gymnasium using industrial-strength fans rather than air conditioning, plus several industrial technology measures that can be taken independently of the renovation. An example is a proposed upgrade to the building paging and master clock system.

“We were able to determine that the majority of cabling within the existing structure that controls our clocks and our speakers was more than up to standard to be able to reuse with the new system,” Adam Swinchock, district director of instructional technology, said.

Also during the Nov. 4 meeting, board members expressed a consensus for the less expensive of two options presented by Hayes Design Group to convert the current high school’s natatorium to an administrative area for the middle school. In another cost-saving consideration, the board in October decided not to pursue a proposal to relocate district administration there, as well.

The preferred option calls for the filling the swimming pool, pouring a concrete slab and installing flooring, which would place the area at street level. The floor also would be several feet below the main part of the building, with a pair of stairways to provide access.

Outside, a 300-square-foot vestibule and waiting area is to be constructed.

“The old entrance that’s there now would only be for students,” Mark Duane, Hayes Design Group principal, told the board. “Then those doors could be locked down once school begins, and any visitor would come through that vestibule and into the waiting area.”

A second option called for building up the administrative area’s floor to be on level with the rest of the building.

“It’s a little bit easier to get access into the school, but every visitor and student has to come in through the same set of doors, just as they do now,” Duane said. He explained, though, that a new configuration “will allow students to pass through there all the time and never cross paths with a visitor who’s coming in through that secure vestibule.”

Whatever the case, the estimate presented for the raised-floor option was some $650,000 more than the street-level scenario. And even though some board members said they preferred aspects of the former, they decided it would be best to save money.

Jennifer Murphy, deputy superintendent, said she talked with Peters Township Middle School staff members about the options, and she mentioned they had some concerns about the aspect of navigating stairs in what became the preferred option.

“But they weren’t adamant about one over the other at this point,” she said. “It wasn’t a big issue. It was just something we talked about.”

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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