JERSEY SHORE - Jersey Shore Area School Board unanimously approved PlanCon part E for the Jersey Shore Elementary School construction project at Monday's meeting.
With some community and board members questioning changes to the project at recent meetings, Paul Taylor, architect of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, discussed how the project has evolved.
The project started in the latter part of 2009, according to Taylor. In original plans, the district was going to close an elementary school and expand Jersey Shore Elementary to hold about 900 students. Now, after the board voted to not close a school at this time, the project still includes an addition but not on such a large scale.
Taylor explained that the project - which includes a gymnasium addition and four extra kindergarten classes - changed due to not closing a school but also to stay within a predetermined $13 million budget.
While he said the plan was "re-evaluated" when a school wasn't closed, other factors, such as sewage problems, began adding costs to the project and other aspects needed to be cut.
"We were looking at sort of different ideas," Taylor said. "Some of (the ideas) just wouldn't work (within the budget)."
In addition to the gymnasium and kindergarten rooms additions, the school will receive a new main entrance. To help "alleviate" traffic issues with other schools in the borough, a new bus loop and parent drop-off area was developed.
The current project did have additional aspects to it but soon ballooned the budget by $3 million and needed to be cut to stay within it.
Adrienne Craig, business manager, said the budget has remained the same, but money has moved within it.
When Shelley Helm, board member, asked Taylor if the current project could allow the school to take on more students if a school was closed later on, he said it has potential to be added to more but couldn't handle an entire school population.
Taylor did say that the district could do another state-reimbursable project if increased enrollment created a need for it. Dr. Dorothy Chappel, assistant superintendent, said the district has options if that was to take place.
Chappel said the district "could potentially" move fifth grade students to the middle school. She said it has been discussed as an option, but it didn't go any further than that.
Board member Harry Brungard asked Taylor why it seemed that the architect firm was receiving more money than the agreed upon 6 percent of the entire project. Taylor explained that there were increased costs because the district is being billed for work that it later canceled.
Taylor said at one point the district asked Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates to develop a locker room and storage area. When the firm was about 60 percent done with developing that plan, the district decided against the project, but the work still was done up to that point.
George Shroat, borough resident, asked J. David Smith, solicitor, to put the project on the ballot and let the taxpayers decide whether or not to go forth with it. Smith informed Shroat that those type of things aren't usually allowed.
"Referendums of this kind are not generally allowed," Smith said.
In other news, the board unanimously approved a final budget for the 2012-13 school year.
In a separate item, the board voted 6-1 to approve a resolution to set a final real estate tax for the 2012-13 school year. Taxes for Lycoming County residents would be 15.5957 mills and 11.0289 mills for those in Clinton County.