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
April 30, 2019

Members of the School Board participating in this meeting included Ms Tracy Lisi (Chair), Mr John Auerbach, Mr Charles Beatty, Mr Jeff  Billig, Mr Rick Dumont, Mr Herman Engel, Ms Lynn Weber, and Mr Bill Wood.   Ms Bonnie Wolff was absent and Mr Billig arrived late.

Meeting Agenda: https://www.boarddocs.com/pa/avongrove/Board.nsf/Public#
Slides: https://www.boarddocs.com/pa/avongrove/Board.nsf/files/BBWJHQ4D42C3/$file/VE%20Study%20-%204.30.19%20Public.pdf

AGHS STEM Classroom Tours
The meeting began with a review of the STEM classrooms by school board members.  All comments were positive.  Student engagement is high; many students are working in the STEM classrooms on their own time.  Lots of team work and pride was exhibited in the robotics demonstration. Avon Grove students performed well in cross-school competition. Though the equipment is not new, it is well maintained. 

There is a need for additional space for these classrooms.  One third of the students who want to take these courses are unable to do so.  Forty eight percent of the actual requests can be met.  No new courses of study can be offered.

STEM instructors, Clint Jones and Matt Ricketts were asked what they would do with additional space.  Was there overlap with the Technical College High School (TCHS)?  The instructors responded that they would like to give students who want it a taste of “applied STEM” e.g. robotics, metallic lab, wood shop etc, so they can decide if they want to go further at another school.  They would like to buy more machines, e.g. laser table, water jet, autoclave/oven, and presses.  They would also like to create a composite lab. There were some comments about trying to keep students at AGHS instead of spending part of their day at TCHS.  It was acknowledged that even with additional space, AGHS would not conduct courses that result in state certification for the students.

 Update from the Integration Committee

Three Integration Committee meetings (March 21st, April 4th, and April 25th) have occurred since the last CoW update. The following was discussed at these meetings:

ACE Grant award
Security and Safety Requirements for the new HS
HVAC System
Stacking of the Mechanical Rooms
Possible removal of the proposed balcony in the new HS auditorium
Geotechnical Engineers engagement with local farmers
Storm Water Plan for the site
Penn Dot commitments

Superintendent Marchese explained why the Integration Committee recommended not accepting the ACE Grant.  He stated that the school district had applied for a $2 million grant with the rationale that if awarded it would pay for the energy efficiency upgrades required by grant.  However, the actual amount awarded was $1.368 million.  It is not large enough to pay for the required energy upgrades and thus the Integration Team recommends not accepting the grant.

Other recommendations made by the Integration Committee:
Current HS field will be the competition field for the new HS.
New HS fields will be natural grass but storm water requirements will be based on turf fields (more stringent).
Track will be designed for 8 lanes.
Traffic study required by PennDOT will begin at the end of May with a report available in August.
The road work project required by PennDOT should be split from the HS construction project in order to avoid a possible 1 year delay while waiting for Penn DOT to approve the required permits.

Mr Dumont and Ms Weber expressed concerns regarding the splitting of the PennDOT required work from the HS construction project.  They are worried that PennDOT requirements could cost more than budgeted and we wouldn’t know the cost until after we had started building the new HS.  The school board was assured by Mr Guariello from D’Huy Engineering that the school district will know what PennDOT requires early in the process while PennDOT is reviewing the package that describes how the school district plans to address the roads for the new high school.

The current site development budget includes $10million with $3million contingency.  Actual costs should be known by the end of May.

Project Budget
A detailed final budget should be available by mid-June.

Value Engineering/Land Development

The “value engineering” evaluation was presented at the meeting.  The objective of the “value engineering evaluation is to look at the project holistically to generate ideas that can increase value by increasing function or by lowering costs. A final report should be available following the May 16th School Board meeting.

Sixty eight items were considered.  Eleven have been implemented and include the reduction of parking spaces (will still have 200 more spaces than current high school), and the construction of a smaller auditorium (reduced by 8 feet resulting in a 1000 seats vs 750 seats in the current high school) with a lower auditorium roof.  Thirteen are being considered for implementation; 23 are alternates (9 of the alternatives actually add cost to the project), and 21 require further evaluation.

There was an acknowledgement that the project is currently $5million over budget.  The team decided not to implement any additional cuts but wait until the completion of the detailed budget in mid-June.  This decision does increase the risk of having to redesign the high school.  Please note that the Early Learning Center is still included in the current design of the new high school and the construction of a Community Health Center and a new Field House are included in the list of Alternates.

Mr Auerbach questioned where in the school facilities budget of $127million is money to remove the modular classrooms as well as repurpose the existing middle school once the current high school is converted to a middle school.  These projects were included in Resolution 18-13 approved by the school board on April 26, 2018 along with the building of a new high school and renovating the existing high school to a middle school.  No response was provided.

Next meeting of the Committee of the Whole- Planning and Construction will occur on May 16th at 6:30PM.

*Call to Action
It is important that your voice is heard.  It is critical that community members attend upcoming school board meetings and/or send letters via e-mail to the school board and administration to make their voice heard.   The District Calendar can be found here.   Watch the district calendar for updates.  Information about the board, including E-mail addresses, can be found here.

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