Construction manager hired for Peters Township High School project
With the hiring of a construction manager, Peters Township School District took a big step forward in building a new high school at the former Rolling Hills Country Club site.
The school board voted 7-2 on Sept. 11 to approve a $1.6 million agreement with Reynolds Construction LLC, regionally based in O’Hara Township. Board members Daniel Taylor and Minna Allison dissented, citing a potential cost savings that might have been realized with another of the five firms the district considered for construction management services.
During a buildings and ground committee session that followed the board’s voting meeting, representatives of project architects Hayes Design Group and Weber Murphy Fox Inc. presented a final schematic design for the high school building, representing the culmination of initially defining the project’s general scope and concept.
The latest design, which takes into account input that has been gathered from a wide variety of stakeholders during a yearlong process, sizes the building at 298,000 square feet. That represents a net increase of about 6,000 square feet from the last iteration presented to the board, with most of that amount representing more academic space, including 14 more classrooms that at the current high school.
Accordingly, the estimated overall cost is up somewhat. But Dick Fox, Weber Murphy Fox principal, said the financial impact could be mitigated fairly easily by exploring options that include using contingency money the district has set aside for the project and making revisions as the process enters its next phase, design development.
Superintendent Jeannine French provided reassurance about the final cost, in terms of the dollars the district plans to spend.
“Ninety million is 90 million,” she said. “And we will be at 90 million.”
Fox also reviewed a series of pertinent dates in the project timeline’s near future:
• Sept. 20 – Review of final schematic design with high school teachers. Each was required to “sign off” on recommendations following a session in August to gain their input, according to French.
• Oct. 9 – Buildings and grounds committee meeting to address “exterior finishes and aesthetics,” Fox said.
• Oct. 16 – School board meeting to vote on Act 34 limits for the project. The state’s so-called “Taj Mahal Act” of 1973 requires public hearings on major construction plans and would require school districts to have a voter referendum if construction costs exceed estimates by a certain level.
• Oct. 17– Regular meeting date for the Peters Township Zoning Hearing Board. The former Rolling Hills property is zoned in a manner that requires a special exception for construction of a school, and the district plans to submit its request to be heard by the board on that date.
• Nov. 9 – Approximate date for a public Act 34 hearing.
• Nov. 13 – Another buildings and grounds committee meeting, at which the architects will present a design development package.
• Nov. 20 – School board meeting to authorize submission of PlanCon Parts D and E to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. PlanCon, an abbreviated version for Planning and Construction Workbook, is a set of forms and procedures used to apply for state reimbursement.
Longer-term, the project could go out for bid in late March or early April, and hopes are for the new school to be open in time to start of the 2020-21 academic year.