Salisbury Press

Tuesday, July 7, 2020


Thursday, November 15, 2018 by MARGE HOPKINS Special to The Press in Local News

Operations committee to evaluate repairs versus cost of building new school

Prior to the opening of Salisbury Township School District operations committee meeting Nov. 5, School Resource Officer Richard Nothstein introduced Officer Jason Laky as the new full-time school resource officer at Salisbury Middle School beginning January 2019.

A graduate of Salisbury High School, Laky has 20 years with the Salisbury Township Police Department with 16 of those years as the head of the K-9 program.

Initially Laky will serve on a part-time basis until the new school year begins in September 2019.

“I look forward to working with everyone and I think it will be good for the rest of my career,” Laky said.

Director of Facilities, Safety and Security for the district, William Brackett gave an eye-opening overview list of capital improvement projects which will be needed in the next three years at each of the district’s four buildings.

Work at Harry S Truman Elementary School includes the replacement of the ceiling and carpeting.

At Salisbury High School, the list began at the stadium field and onto a new track with fencing, LED lighting and a new concession stand. Brackett noted the track is “pushing” the end of its lifespan.

LED lighting will cost about a third of the energy expense of the high pressure sodium lighting currently installed at the stadium.

Moving just outside the stadium, new varsity softball dugouts and fencing also made the list.

Inside the halls of the school, work includes gymnasium and garage roof replacement and additional exit doors.

According to Brackett, the exit doors are a much needed measure of safety and will eliminate the need for students to exit into the hallways to leave the building.

The projected work at SHS will come in at an approximate price of $3.1 million.

Salisbury Middle School’s list comes in at an approximate price tag of $26.5 million and includes a total overhaul of the HVAC unit, change in design, installation of drop ceilings, removal of carpeting, new classroom lighting, roof replacement, duct cleaning and control system replacement.

Brackett said the work would take more than one summer to complete.

Director George Gatanis said it would be more cost efficient to conduct some of the work during the school year, relocating students to other wings of the building.

Western Salisbury Elementary School needs a replacement to the HVAC system which will include vertical units to heat and cool classrooms on an individual basis more efficiently. Costs should come in at approximately $5 million.

Brackett cited the mold issues which occurred over the summer months at WSE as the catalyst for the new units. The remediation continued into the opening of the school and interfered with the first few weeks of class,

School board President Frank Frankenfield asked what the tipping point was for investing too much money into the aging middle and elementary schools.

“When you get into 60 percent or more of the value of the structure, you have to question whether it is feasible to repair or replace,” Brackett said.

“You also have to look at your capacity to borrow.”

D’Huy Engineering has been tasked with creating a feasibility study to outline the pros and cons of repairing versus replacing.

Brackett said to build a kindergarten through eighth grade complex as opposed to the proposed renovation of two elementary schools and the middle school would require two gymnasiums and two cafeterias; one for the elementary and one for the middle school age students.

“A K-8 building would come in at $85 million,” Brackett said.

To replace the existing middle school, the cost would be approximately $60 million.

According to Brackett there is ample land to the rear of the current middle school to build a new structure; however, the land would need to be researched because of sinkhole issues at the site.

Students would remain in the existing structure during the construction of the new school.

Members of the committee agreed there would need to be much more discussion on the subject before heading into the direction of new construction.

Frankenfield told Brackett it was imperative D’Huy provides a comprehensive detailed feasibility study and not just a one or two page sheet of suggestions for the $30,000 cost of the study.

Regarding district property, Superintendent Dr. Randy Ziegenfuss said Terraform Engineering is set to prepare a feasibility study to examine the district’s property on Emmaus Avenue across from the bus garages. The study will determine not only the value of the asset but the possibilities for the land as well.

Members of the committee agreed to go forward with the study.

In other business, the curb cut-outs at HST for handicap access from Gaskill Avenue into the school are, according to Brackett, much more involved than initially thought.

Because of issues with the grade of the sidewalks and Americans With Disabilities Act compliance guidelines, slabs of sidewalk and curbing will need to be replaced.

The original contractor quote of approximately $6,000 to $7,000 with the requirements to meet the guidelines, is now estimated to nearly $25,000.

Brackett noted that because of the price of the project a bid is required and was put out through the Keystone Purchasing Network.

The sidewalk cutouts are not requirements; however, members of the committee agreed it was morally necessary to make the improvements. The committee also asked Brackett to try to attempt to negotiate the price of the project.

Also up for discussion at the meeting was the aging gas and diesel pump at the bus garage.

Brackett said the pump is 30 years old and is constantly under repair and becoming very costly. The cost for a new gas pump is estimated to be $15,000.

Members of the board agreed it would be more cost effective to use their own pump and gas than to use another source or gas cards and will go forward with examining the purchase of a new pump.

Assistant Superintendent Lynn Fuini-Hetten shared a slide presentation with members of the committee concerning the district offering mental health services.

The school would be working with the Lehigh County and Magellan Health Services for a provider.

Fuini-Hetten said offering counseling to students at the school is in line with the terms of the school’s Profile of a Graduate, aiding the students inhouse.

The services would be offered at SHS, SMS and HST and allow students one-to-one counseling during and after school hours at the expense of the student’s insurance.

Fuini-Hetten said some students don’t have the resources or time to seek counseling off site. Providing a counselor on site would eliminate a barrier while creating a connection with the school.

The school would provide the state approved and licensed space for the counseling and limited human resource needs.

The provider would need to present a certificate of insurance and supplies.

Fuini-Hetten said the district solicitor would review any liabilities or contracts between the provider and the district. Director Robert Kulp said counseling at other districts was well received and has been a benefit to the students and their parents.

Regarding the 2017-2018 audit, Chief Financial Officer Michael Taylor said the audit is due to be completed by December.

Policy changes have been made regarding student wellness and emergency preparedness.

Concerning resident and former Salsbury Township School Board member Alan DeBona’s inquiry at a prior meeting regarding a proposal to provide a post review of the mold issue at WSE, members of the committee concluded the study conducted by the mold remediation team was sufficient and encompassed preventative measures and recommendations.

As the meeting came to a close, DeBona stood to address the committee regarding the Emmaus Avenue property as well as his proposal regarding mold at WSE.

DeBona said examining the Emmaus Avenue parcel is not a new concept and prior attempts to sell the land had failed, with the last attempt being nixed by the township.

“When you guys start your planning, bring the township in early,” DeBona said.

DeBona went onto say the sale failed because the township did not want high density building on the site and only a small portion of the 49 acres is usable land.

Concerning the mold issue and proposal he made at a prior meeting, DeBona stated, “Unfortunately you misunderstood what lessons learned are in the after-action reviews. It is to learn what things happened, and to examine the process that you had in place and incorporate that knowledge in the bag and expand your toolkit. It’s about learning how you went through the experience.”

The next operations meeting will be held Dec. 5.