Avon Grove Taxpayers for Responsible Spending


        Citizens, Parents, and Schools working together to bring Avon Grove into the 21st Century!

Avon Grove School Board Committee of the Whole- Planning and Construction Meeting
May 16, 2019

Members of the School Board participating in this meeting included Ms Tracy Lisi (Chair), Mr John Auerbach, Mr Jeff  Billig, Mr Rick Dumont, Mr Herman Engel, Ms Lynn Weber, Ms Bonnie Wolff, and Mr Bill Wood.   Mr Charles Beatty did not attend the meeting.

Meeting Agenda:

Project Expense Sheet:

Meeting Video:  https://livestream.com/accounts/20619292/events/8378991/videos/191355480

Slides: Not provided on the website

Update from the Integration Committee
The Integration Committee met on May 9th and discussed ways to reduce costs for the high school project that included the following:

  • Reduction in the size in the loop roadway and the amount of sidewalk and curbing at the high school site
  • Reduction of 3 multi-purpose fields to 2 multi-purpose fields with one of the previous fields becoming an above ground basin to address storm water management
  • Removal of 90 parking spaces; there will still be 663 parking spaces
  • Removal of a 8 feet by 8 inch slice of floor space from the auditorium

Mr Wood asked that no final decision be made on the removal of the 3rd multi-purpose field until absolutely necessary.  He wanted to know how much this saves and how long the decision can be deferred.

It was also reported that the Chester County Conservation District will require additional infiltration tests (about 30 tests) because of the size of the site.  Data have been collected from the Transportation Study and are being processed.

Project Budget
A worksheet (see link above) was presented that listed the invoices for the project to date with $924,708 being paid to date.  The numbers are significantly less than what has been committed by contract or activity since there is a lag for when the invoices are received. A detailed budget should be available by mid-June.

Design Development
A video was presented of the school layout.  The objective is to keep the design of the building classic, simple, and clean.  It includes lots of breakout stations for the students including multiple plugs so the students can charge their devices.  They are planning for 1800 lockers.  These lockers will be wider and shorter than the current lockers with enough space to fit a backpack and coat.

Value Engineering/Land Development  (30:50 in video)
The results from the “value engineering” evaluation were presented at the meeting.  Based on projections presented at the last meeting, the project was $5 million over budget; i.e. $110 million with $8 million in contingencies.  Based on the decisions made at the May 9th integration meeting, the project is approximately $2 million over budget; i.e. $106,626 with $6.2 million in contingencies.

The cost of the building was reduced by $1.2 million by reducing the size of the auditorium.  The cost of the site development was reduced by $1.4 million by introducing two open storm water basins versus underground basins, by reducing the number of parking spots, and by proposing a significant reduction in sidewalk curbing that the Twp has to buy into before it can be implemented.

The final value engineering report should be available by end of May.

New Potentially Costly Development in Plan for New High School (43:55 in video)
Feedback from the Geotechnical Engineers was presented.  The structure of the soil at the high school building site is poor.  It is a soft soil that will need to be improved before a building can be constructed.  A possible solution is to drive 10-25 ft tunnels into the ground, fill the tunnels with stone, and then compact the stone.  Each tunnel would improve the soil in a 4 foot radius around the tunnel. Fifteen hundred to 3000 tunnels would need to be constructed.  The engineers are evaluating this solution along with other possible solutions.  This is a new cost to the project and its magnitude is unknown at this time.  This issue could also delay the construction of the new high school though steps will be taken to minimize any delay.  A better idea of the possible solution and its costs should be known within the next 2 weeks.

The meeting ended with comments relating to the upcoming election which will take place on May 21st.  Mr Billig seemed to accuse some fellow board members of being the source of inaccurate information regarding the facilities project without mentioning a specific name or stating the source. Superintendent Marchese felt compelled to state how well he, Mr Carsley, and the school administration have performed as stewards of the financial resources of the school district.  He commented that over the past several years, the administration has spent limited money on facility upgrades.  One can argue if this is a positive in light of the condition of the high school auditorium, HVAC system, and roof.  He stated he needed to make this statement to respond to claims that the school administration is mishandling the budget process. 

It is clear from his comments that he is proud of the job his administration is doing including the amount of the yearly school tax increases and has no plans to change his approach.  He also stated that renovating the high school and middle school was more expensive than the current project and that he has improved communication with the community.  The statement regarding the cost for renovation is not in line with the information we have from previous Facilities Meetings.  Of note, Option 4A which was discussed at the CoW Facilities and Planning Meetings on February 8 and 27th, 2018 included $78 million to renovate and expand the high school to the appropriate size (remove modular) as well as $14 million for work on the middle school (7-8) and PLE to eliminate modular classrooms.

Several members of the public provided comments.  All supported the building of the new high school.

The next meeting of the Committee of the Whole- Planning and Construction has not been scheduled.