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Wiring for Pottstown schools renovation could cost $375,000, Mercury 8-18-13

By Evan Brandt

POTTSTOWN — You can add new data system wiring to the things not included in the $14 million price tag for renovation and expansion of three elementary schools in the borough.

Thursday night, school board Vice President Robert Hartman Jr., who is also the chairman of the board’s facilities committee, reported that his committee is recommending the additional spending of as much as $375,000 “for data wiring devices installation at Franklin, Lincoln and Rupert elementary schools” according to the agenda of Thursday’s meeting.


There was no discussion among the full board, or questions asked by any of the board members, so it was not immediately clear why this was not included in the budget for the broader expansion/renovation project.


Work began this summer on the renovations and expansion at the three schools, while work is now being completed at Barth Elementary School, where work began a year earlier.


At Lincoln and Franklin schools, the students in kindergarten through fourth grade will remain in the buildings while work continues.


Students and staff from Rupert Elementary School will spend the year at the Edgewood Elementary School building, the district’s youngest building, which was closed at the end of this school year and will remain closed and likely be sold.


The Rupert move was approved by the board so that the more extensive work required at Rupert Elementary School, the district’s oldest school building, could be completed more quickly and with less disturbance to the students and staff.


In addition to the closing of Edgewood, the elementary plan also called for moving all the district’s fifth graders to Pottstown Middle School, which was expanded in 2000.


When the bids for the three elementary schools were opened in April, they were $700,000 less than budgeted.


However that savings stands to be consumed by the combination of the new data wiring, which will be the subject of a vote by the school board at its Monday night meeting, and the replacing of roofs at the other elementary buildings.


In May, Hartman advised the board that despite years of architectural studies and the subsequent nearly complete renovation of Barth Elementary School, it was only recently determined that the school needs a new roof — with a estimated price tag of $665,000.


Hartman said that project could be funded with insurance savings and from a contingency fund, but it also turns out Barth is not the only school that needs a new roof.


Hartman told the board Thursday that the engineering study of the remaining roofs is still underway.


He has said that should they all the roofs need replacement, it is likely the district would replace them over time and not necessarily as part of the current renovation projects.


In addition to new roofs, there may also be a problem with at least one ceiling — the drop ceiling at Franklin Elementary School.


Hartman reported that asbestos has been discovered in the ceiling there and its discovery may force the re-scheduling of how the work gets done at that school.


“Everything is still sealed, so it won’t pose any danger to the students or staff and it won’t slow the project down, but we have to hold off doing the multi-purpose room right away,” Hartman said. “As soon as they realized what they had found, they put it back and sealed it back up.”

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