School board OKs retaining wall

After much discussion on its options for a slope in the front section of the Williamsport Area Middle School, the school board voted Tuesday to approve a change order to install a two-tier retaining wall.

The board voted 8-1 to approve the retaining wall at a cost of $42,661.50. Board member Dale Vollman was the lone vote against the agenda item.

As Bryan McCaffery, director of maintenance and facility operations, explained, the retaining wall is needed on a slope between the middle school and district service center to reduce the runoff it creates during bad weather. McCaffery said that it continuously floods a walkway used to access a storage space in the district center.

When asked, he said it has yet to enter the storage area but it has been “close.”

McCaffery explained that the cost included back fill for the two-tier wall and a drainage system, which would allow water to drain properly off of the slope.

When the board agreed to go out to the site of the slope to see the problem, many questioned the need for such an expensive fix to the problem. Some asked if there were other options that have yet to be explored.

“Because the price tag is so high, I would like some other options explored,” said Dr. Jane Penman, board member.

Other board members agreed, asking for a less-expensive fix to the steep slope. McCaffery explained that he would ask for a second option but it would include additional costs for Larson Design Group to come back with another fix.

Lori Baer, board president, noted that while the board may save money with another option, it could end up paying the same amount with the additional cost or more if they choose the first one.

Jay Shultz, board member, said while he wasn’t “thrilled” with the price of the project, he was in favor of it since it is a long-term fix and will look good in front of a new building.

In other business, Superintendent Dr. Don Adams announced that the district will hold a dedication ceremony for the middle school at 2 p.m. Nov. 10 in the school’s cafeteria.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 12, having previously rescheduled it to avoid Election Day Nov. 5.