Manheim Central school board mull options for high school renovation | Regional

When: Manheim Central school board meeting, Oct. 26.

What happened: Jeff Straub from Crabtree Rohrbaugh Associates presented project options for the high school renovation project.

Why it’s important: Last December, the board approved a high school renovation project not to exceed $44 million. Officials announced a delay in January to take advantage of potential reimbursement of some costs. The project was then put on hold in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic and potential budget shortfalls.

Renovation options: One option would be a $20 million project that would add central air to the high school and make necessary repairs such as replacing the roof. A second option would be full renovation project costing between $40 and $44 million. A third option would involve phasing the full renovation project over an extended period.

Full renovation update: Straub said after a recent review by the district’s business operations and facilities committee minor revisions were made to the plan approved in December. The revisions provide a better flow of people. The revised design maintains the “main street” corridor running from the main entrance to a new cafeteria wing at the rear of the building. However, the family and consumer science classrooms have been shifted from an area near the cafeteria to the area presently used as an auxiliary gym. With that shift, a large-group instruction area would move from the new cafeteria wing to the area previously designated for family and consumer science.

Project phasing: Straub said the project could be phased, with the bulk of the project done at one time. A potential later phase could include reconfiguring the science rooms and adding a robotics lab. Phasing the design would also mean finding a location for an art room.

Board reaction: Although the board took no action, many were in favor of pursuing the complete renovation project. Board President Linda Williams said with the lower interest rates available now to finance the project, the district is in a much better position to go forward with the complete project. Some board members expressed concern that doing a part of the project now and then completing the rest of the project later would add to the overall cost.

Refinancing bonds: The board approved a measure to refinance three bonds at a lower interest rate. The maximum amount to be refinanced would be $34.09 million. Business Manager Bryan Howett said the refinance would involve only existing bonds and does not include additional funds for the high school renovation project.

What’s next: The board is seeking a revised timeline for the renovation project. The board agreed to cancel a meeting that had been scheduled for Nov. 9. The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 16; it will be a virtual meeting for visitors.

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