A Montoursville Area School Board member was apprehensive after a presentation Tuesday by Paul Taylor, of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates Architects, the firm hired by the district to conduct a study on possible renovation options for the high school and Loyalsock Valley Elementary School.
"Our goal with this project is to upgrade and improve not only the image of the buildings but also the safety and environment, both inside and outside those buildings," Taylor said.
The main purpose of Taylor's presentation was to encourage the board to stay on a schedule with the project.
"You need to do something now to keep the process moving forward," Taylor said.
If the board continues the process, the bid openings for the projects likely would be in April of 2015, Taylor said. Construction then would begin in June of 2015, with an expected completion date of 2017.
Board member George Hagemeyer expressed concerns over being rushed to make a decision.
"I've yet to hear anybody saying we're doing anything," Hagemeyer said. "Now, all of sudden, we need to do this and we need to do that. I feel like it's being rammed down our throat and I don't like it."
Superintendent Dr. Timothy Bowers said there is significant need for the projects and the board requested that the firm provide a study explaining the need.
"This is a very preliminary look at options as a result of them touring our facilities and looking at the condition they're in," Bowers said.
It's very clear the district has two projects in front of it. The proof is there, Bowers said.
Hagemeyer also expressed concerns for the taxpayers in the district.
"I'd like to see what the taxpayers think about this and whether they can afford it," Hagemeyer said.
Taylor said the options for the elementary school project range from $5.4 million to $10 million, while the high school options go from $22 million all the way up to $43 million.
The cheaper options focus solely on restoration of the current high school facility, while the $43 million option is the building of an entirely new facility at a new location.
"Most of the attention is going to a $34 million option. That option seems to take care of all our goals and keeps the high school on the site it is now," Bowers said.
The "favored" option includes restoration to current high school infrastructure, as well as the addition of a third-story academic wing and redesign of the parking lots to include more parking slots.
Bowers said the starting point is going to be this option, but it could be tweaked in the pre-design phase.
In the pre-design phase, the firm will look at infrastructure needs such as sewer, electrical and water and also will prepare proposals and perform surface investigation at the high and elementary schools.
"We'll do a lot more with site requirements in this phase. It's really extensive," Bowers said. "We'll also prioritize our goals in this plan ... which means anything we want preserved from the old building and included in the new building. We'll also set new goals and set milestones for the next steps in the projects."
The board voted 7-1 to have the firm continue into the pre-design phase. Voting in favor were Dale Ulmer, Thomas McNamara, James Bergen, Scott Knokle, Jennifer Marriott, William Ruffing and Jill Kaplan. Hagemeyer opposed the motion. Jeffrey Schans was absent.
"The reason the board felt comfortable moving forward is because these things have to happen," Bowers said. "We might as well go ahead and start the pre-design phase because those things have to happen no matter what the final product looks like."