Mars School Board mulls adding to renovation plan

Middle school plans reviewed

November 14, 2018 Cranberry Local News

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Crews work to pave Rochester Road in Cranberry Township on Wednesday.

ADAMS TWP — The Mars School Board will consider additions to a renovation project at the middle school.

During a meeting Nov. 5, which lasted three hours and included a one-hour executive session, the board heard from Jon Thomas of Thomas & Williamson Program Management who outlined more than $2 million worth of additions to the project.

Last month, the board voted to change the scope of the renovation on the 50-year-old building. Originally planned as a complete rebuild, officials recognized the additional cost of such a project would require borrowing money, which could impact future projects and necessary upgrade work throughout the district. Officials said $14.4 million has been earmarked for the project.

The renovation would total $12.43 million, Thomas said. The largest chunk — about 64 percent, or $7.9 million — would go toward mechanical, electrical and plumbing work. Exterior work, which includes a new roof and windows, accounts for nearly $2.2 million, while interior finishing work would cost about $1.4 million.

Also included in the project is resurfacing work, as well as new equipment for the kitchen area. The board voted unanimously to approve the base scope of work presented by Thomas & Williamson.

On Nov. 5, Thomas presented the expanded scope of work, which includes $126,250 for raising the cafeteria floor; $222,425 for widening corridors; and $1.5 million for relocating the nurse's office, art room, robotics, maker space and classrooms.

The board previously discussed creating learning “houses” which would allow for collaborative learning and would give the building a more defined learning space. The expanded scope renovations would allow for that to happen, Thomas said.

The additions would bring the project cost to $14.6 million, according to Thomas. He presented an “alternate structure” to how the contracts for work would be created. For the base work, 64 percent would be designed by the engineer, 33 percent by the architect and 3 percent by the food service designer. In the expanded scope, 57 percent would be designed by the engineer, 41 percent by the architect and 2 percent by the food service company.

This structure would allow for savings in the overall project cost, Thomas said. He showed bids for both base and expanded scope work, with Eckles Architecture the lowest architect bidder at $196,904.84 and $286,904.82. CJL Engineering was the lowest engineering firm with $262,000 and $289,500, respectively. Food service designer McFarland Kistler & Associates was the lowest bidder at $14,500.

Tom King, board solicitor, said he and Superintendent Wesley Shipley will work with Thomas & Williamson to get legal documents together and review the bids, with the board tentatively set to vote on the scope and engineers.

“This is not the traditional school project where you hire an architect and they hire the engineers,” King said, adding because of that, paperwork is more crucial and involved.

By doing that, Thomas said the project would stay on the proposed timeline, which has contracts being awarded in April and construction starting in summer 2019.

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