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Renovating high school costlier than building a new one, says architect

Posted 9/4/12

By Daniel Walmer

Press And Journal StaffIt would cost less to construct a new Middletown Area High School building than to properly renovate and expand the current building, said district architect Rick LeBlanc of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and …

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Renovating high school costlier than building a new one, says architect

Posted
By Daniel Walmer

Press And Journal Staff

It would cost less to construct a new Middletown Area High School building than to properly renovate and expand the current building, said district architect Rick LeBlanc of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates at the Middletown School Board meeting on Monday, August 27.

Roof leaks, exposed pipes, rust and lack of handicapped accessibility are among the culprits LeBlanc identified. One district resident said she was “shocked” with the building’s condition during a recent tour.

When a need for expansion is factored in, the tab comes to $46 million for renovating the 40-year-old structure, or $1.2 million more that then $44.8 million cost of a new high school.

The board has not committed to funding either a renovation or a new high school, but asked LeBlanc in July to complete exploratory work in order to beat an October moratorium on state funding for school facility construction projects that have not submitted the initial application steps.

The board unanimously agreed at the Aug. 27 meeting to pursue the initial steps for a new high school rather than a renovated one.

The new structure could be built on the current school complex property, between the current high school building and baseball fields, LeBlanc said. The old building would then be demolished and the space used for parking and walkways, he said.

The district will hold a public information meeting on the preliminary plan and public tours of the high school at 7 p.m. on Sept. 5, and plans to vote on approving the preliminary plan for submission to the state at its Sept. 24 meeting.

The preliminary plan would not commit the district to funding a building project, LeBlanc emphasized.

Also at the Aug. 27 meeting, a group of Middletown cheerleaders and their parents complained to council about a burdensome increase in their responsibilities.

In an effort to comply with Title IX requirements on scholastic equality between male and female sports, the board decided in August to have cheerleaders at home games for girls’ teams in sports like soccer where only boys’ teams were previously cheered, said David Franklin, assistant to the superintendent for finance and operations.

But with girls’ soccer moving from the spring to the fall for the 2012-13 school year, the cheerleaders must cheer a total 28 fall athletic season events, said senior cheerleader Meghan Demarcky.

“No other teams are doing that many events in one season,” Demarcky said. “We won’t be able to hold a job.”

The cheerleaders do not feel appreciated by the district, said assistant coach Beth Miller-Lopez, and the number of cheerleaders has dwindled to 14 as a result.

“How are 14 girls supposed to cheer 28 games?” Miller-Lopez asked the school board.

Parent Patti Hart said they proposed splitting the squad into two groups of seven that would split events, but were denied their request by athletic director William Mills.

Board President Barbara Layne agreed that 28 fall events is a lot, and said the board would work on finding a quicker solution than reconsidering the policy at the board’s Athletic Committee meeting on Sept. 13.

“We will get back to you,” Layne said to the cheerleaders.  “We will not wait until Sept. 13.”

The board also passed a concussion management policy that requires coaches to remove student athletes with concussion symptoms from games. Players must then be cleared by an “appropriate medical professional” before returning to play, according to the policy.