POTTSTOWN PA – Everyone in one place, and a place for everyone.
That may well sum up the enthusiasm and interest among members of the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors, and the public as well, which appeared to emerge Monday night (April 29, 2013) as talk of proposed renovations at Pottsgrove High School included the addition of a new $4.3 million gymnasium.
Board members and administrators indicated they want everyone in one place: a single location in which all high school students – 1,000 or more individuals – could assemble and be addressed. Pottsgrove lacks that now. Its existing auditorium holds about 850 people; its gym, about 700.
Those numbers are likely to shrink, too. Neither facility complies with current American With Disabilities Act requirements, a redesign feasibility study stated. To ensure adherence to ADA standards, both probably would lose seating in a renovation.
Residents who favored the gym sought a place for everyone. They spoke in terms of attracting larger crowds to successful student competitions, further enhancing the school’s athletic programs, and polishing its image and branding.
Building a gym was not an alternative described last week (Tuesday, April 23), during the board’s second monthly meeting, as KCBA Architects of Hatfield PA outlined its plan for expansion and reconstruction of the Kauffman Road building. But directors’ and audience questions within that session caused the architectural team to examine possibilities for a new gym, KCBA Principal of Project Development Michael Kelly said.
Kelly displayed a slide that showed a new gym positioned lengthwise along the school’s east wall and occupying much of the space now devoted to an asphalt circle for traffic entering at the south end of Kauffman, as well as a portion of an adjacent parking lot. His team opted for a gym rather than a second auditorium, he noted, because gyms are “less expensive to build. Auditoriums cost a lot.”
“And if the gym has to fit in a budget,” Kelly added, alluding to something less than the $34.5 million renovation price tag now on the public table, “then conversations (about the project) must continue.”
“That gym has to be built!,” Stephen Klotz, an elected Lower Pottsgrove Township commissioner who also is heavily involved in high school-age sports, proclaimed. “You have to give these students a sense of pride,” he insisted of the entire project. “You have to ask what it’s going to cost you if you don’t do it. Sometimes its not about the taxes,” Klotz said.
Victor Markle, president of the Pottsgrove Girls Fast-Pitch Softball board of directors, was less specific in detail but no less emphatic in support. “I’m in favor of everything I’ve seen,” he said of Monday’s presentation. Rick Rabinowitz, one of four challengers to incumbent school board members – all vying for a seat in primary elections later this month – also agreed. “I’m for this project,” he told directors, “and I trust you’ll look at it carefully.”
Despite Klotz’s declaration to the contrary, though, the gym’s added cost and the entire project budget were very much on the minds of some.
“You’ve got to make it worth the extra dollars we pay,” Sanatoga business owner and Pottsgrove grad Scott Exley urged the board. He compared several recommended improvements to the continually declining scores of Pottsgrove High students on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests and asked, “how does this help them? If they’re not performing in reading, writing and math, how does this project relate?”
“It would be nice to have one space in the building to hold all our students,” Director Michael Neiffer, a candidate for re-election, acknowledged, but said he hoped to “offset the additional costs and get more academic value.” He suggested adjusting parts of KCBA’s layout, some of which demanded new construction, to fit into square footage now consumed by the existing gym.
A patient Kelly smiled and nodded in recognition, and said he understood the search for value. “The problem is a gym is a big, tall space without windows,” he explained, “and unless you’ve got something else that’s big and tall it’s difficult to put other things in there.” The good news “is that there’s a lot of options available to us yet. This plan,” he said, pointing to his slide, “is just a snapshot in time.”
Related (to Pottsgrove High reconstruction):
- Behind ‘Grove Gym Support: All In A Place, A Place For All
- Blast From ‘Grove’s Past: Look What $1.2 Million Bought
- A Field Here, A Gym There. Voilà! $34.5 Million In Costs
- Monday’s Crowd Supported Pottsgrove Renovation Plan
- ‘Grove’s Smallest Renovation: What To Do With ‘Patio?’
- Pottsgrove Not Alone In Looking At STEM; College Is Too
- Monday Forum Seeks Input On Pottsgrove High Plans
- First Looks Offered For Renovations At Pottsgrove High
- Pottsgrove Now Plans 2 Meetings On High School Project
- Tick-Tock! Contractors Met Timetable At Pottsgrove HS
- Pottsgrove High Classes Unaffected By Smoking Heater
- Search Starts For Feasibility Study Vendor At Pottsgrove
- Upgrades Could Enhance STEM Education At Pottsgrove
- Pottsgrove Seeks Study On High School Project Wish List
- Board OKs Air Repairs As Start Of Fixes At High School
- Pottsgrove Hires Mechanicsburg Architect For HS Review
- Directors OK Engineering Study For High School Systems
- With Ringing Project Done, Pottsgrove Eyes HS Repairs
- Committee: Pottsgrove High Needs Work, Not Renovation
- Response Mixed To Pottsgrove Improvements