Pottsgrove Now Plans 2 Meetings On High School Project

Pottsgrove Now Plans Two Meetings On High School Project

KCBA Architects of Hatfield PA, on whose feasibility study the school board will rely as it considers refurbishing Pottsgrove High School, also is responsible for the earlier design of nearby Perkiomen Valley High School (above) in Collegeville, and Daniel Boone Middle School in Birdsboro.

POTTSTOWN PA – Two separate public meetings will be held by the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors before month’s end, the Pottsgrove School District announced Tuesday (April 16, 2013), to review and discuss the potential of renovating and refurbishing Pottsgrove High School during the next two years at a cost of up to $30 million.

The first meeting, scheduled for next Tuesday (April 23) at 7:30 p.m., was already on the board’s agenda. The second meeting, which was not considered earlier, is scheduled for April 29 (Monday), also at 7:30 p.m. Both sessions will be held in the cafeteria of the high school, 1345 Kauffman Rd.

Board President Scott Fulmer last week (April 9) issued an urgent plea to local news reporters, asking them to “encourage participation” at the meetings among community residents and property taxpayers, both those with and without school-age children at home. “We had a lot of support from a lot of different parts of the community when we renovated Ringing Rocks (elementary school last year),” Fulmer said, “and we’d like to get the same support for the high school.”

Present during both meetings will be representatives of KCBA Architects of Hatfield PA, hired by the district to conduct a feasibility study of proposed high school modifications and renovations. The district administration wish list for improvements at the high school, first issued in December (2012), seems likely to comprise much of what KCBA will address. The architects also met with high school staff members for their input.

A copy of its study will be posted on the district website following the meeting, Director of Technology and Communications Michael Wagman said.

Some mechanical and other systems at the decades-only high school are nearing the end of their 20- to 25-year life spans, according to Director of Facilities and Physical Plants Michael Katzenmoyer. The board has already authorized replacement of air conditioning chillers and portions of the roof at the high school, and is considering other fixes that could total about $9 million.

The work that’s required prompted Superintendent Shellie Feola, high school Principal Yolanda Williams and others to begin thinking about what also might be hoped for in modernizing the building.

KCBA’s study looks in part “at what could be done to update the high school to meet modern codes, standards, and needs … It will also include analysis of the exterior facilities, including athletic fields and parking,” Wagman said. It is expected to include space for the high school’s new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, as well as for performing and visual arts, and special education.

District Business Administrator David Nester advised the board that, depending on its decisions following the study, a total package of repairs, replacements and renovations might total $30 million. Pottsgrove can’t count on financial assistance from the state, he warned, and it lacks enough money in capital reserves to pay for the project itself.

However, he believes the district’s efforts to pay off existing debt from earlier building projects like those at Lower Pottsgrove Elementary and Pottsgrove Middle School will allow it to borrow additional money needed for high school projects without further raising tax rates. In effect, Nester explained, the district would simply swap in new debt over extra years for sums currently being retired.

Some board members, including Fulmer, previously said they did not want to increase the physical size, or footprint, of the high school. They feared taxpayers would object to such an expansion, they said.

Related (to Pottsgrove High reconstruction):

Photo from KCBA Architects

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