Meadville Tribune

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September 24, 2013

Crawford Central plan to move part of district office to East End moving forward

MEADVILLE — The re-purposing of the building formerly known as East End Elementary School took a step forward Monday night when Crawford Central School Board approved moving ahead with a plan that would relocate some but not all of the district’s administration offices to the 640 Walnut St. site.

The move is pending approval from Pennsylvania Department of Education, which has already given the go-ahead to a more extensive plan that would have shifted the district’s entire administrative operation to Walnut Street. During last week’s work session, the board directed HHSDR Architects/Engineers to seek PDE approval for the revised plan as quickly as possible.

By an 8-0 vote with board member Mitch Roe absent, the board gave the go-ahead to a plan that would leave the office of Superintendent Charlie Heller along with the district’s business office and buildings and grounds department at the current Instructional Support Center at 11280 Mercer Pike in Vernon Township. School board meetings as well as various meetings and training sessions would also continue to take place in the current board room.

The move has been initiated to save approximately $2.1 million in state reimbursement for additions and renovations completed just a year before the decision was made to close the facility. In order to receive the school construction reimbursement subsidy previously granted, a minimum of 50 percent of the building must be used as a public school. Use as an administration office qualified, as did the portion of the building already leased to Twin Creeks Headstart for use as a public prekindergarten.

“This makes sense — but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth,” board member Frank Schreck said of the move, which the architect estimated will require an estimated $143,000 in structural work, architectural and engineering fees and related construction costs.

Board member Richard Curry also expressed reservations about the estimated cost of the project.

During the public comment that preceded the vote, school board candidate John Amato told the board he couldn’t fathom why the cost of the move should “exceed the price of new phone lines.”

According to Dave Dickson, the district’s supervisor of building and grounds, the estimate covers what it would cost if everything involved in the project — primarily HVAC, electrical and plumbing and fire systems — was put out to bid and the building was completely prepared for the move by outside contractors. However, doing some of the work in-house with district employees and students from Crawford County Career & Technical Center could reduce the estimate, Dickson explained.

“All costs will be brought before the board before we do it,” Heller assured the board.

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at mspicer@meadvilletribune.com.

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