CASD Preparing for High School Expansion, Athletic Facilities Upgrades

(GantDaily File Photo)

CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield Area School District Board of Directors continued its discussions of the high school renovation and expansion project and the athletic facilities upgrades following Monday night’s reorganizational meeting.

District Architect J. Greer Hayden of HHSDR Architects/Engineers presented the latest proposed high school site plan. He said its design has evolved and continues to progress with feedback he’s receiving from meetings with individual staff, departments and administration.

Hayden said the proposed design hasn’t been finalized and would undergo additional modifications. He said the board is currently considering a high school renovation and expansion project that has estimated costs of $33,485,500.

In June, the board approved expanding the high school and turning the campus into grades seven through twelve. At the time, the board reduced the project costs by $3,096,000 when it deleted classroom additions and reduced gymnasium and office space.

The board was initially embarking upon a $35,326,500 renovation and expansion project in June, which upon discussions lessened it to $32,230,500. But modifications proposed Monday night have caused costs to rise by $1,255,000.

Hayden said the two-story addition being proposed has been expanded, and a small addition has been incorporated for the high school office area. In June, he said the board planned to convert the current auxiliary gymnasium into the district’s central administrative offices.

The board’s plans included adding a second floor above the auxiliary gymnasium. However, it wasn’t economically permitting for Hayden, whom suggested keeping it single-story to reduce costs.

According to him, it appears the band, choral and music department will overflow into three additional classrooms with students coming up from the middle school program. He said IT services would subsequently be located in the building’s addition, overtaking the maintenance area.

Hayden said the “big changes” involved the library system, which once proposed a second middle school library. Now, he said family consumer sciences wouldn’t fit into two classrooms and would require three, and the art program would also need larger classrooms.

“I didn’t want to expand and chose to work with what we have,” he said. He proposed a combined middle and high school library, which could easily be divided in two to service middle and high school students separately.

Hayden said the proposed middle school gymnasium would seat 500 spectators with bleachers on both sides. He figured they’d have 300 seats for the home side, and 200 seats for the visitors.

According to him, the current high school gymnasium seats about 900 to 1,000 spectators. Assistant Principal Tim Janocko expressed concern about the scaled back size of the proposed middle school gymnasium, while the auxiliary gymnasium would become the district’s central administrative offices.

Board President Dave Glass supported increasing the proposed middle school gymnasium back to 1,000 seats. At that point, Janocko said the new gymnasium could become the “main” gymnasium, and the current high school gymnasium could be used by middle school students.

Board member Phil Carr asked if it’d be more efficient to locate the district’s central administrative offices within its maintenance building. Hayden said it would increase costs, as the auxiliary gymnasium would have to undergo renovations. He said constructing new space would drive costs up as well.

Teacher Paul Jeffries said physical education teachers have voiced concerns to him about gymnasium space, while the auxiliary gymnasium wouldn’t be available. He said it’s widely used by their classes. In addition, he foresees the new middle school gymnasium as an opportunity that could be publicly showcased.

Hayden said if they went with the larger gymnasium, it would have to expand into the high school’s musical facilities due to an embankment behind the school. Then, the music department would have to be relocated into a newly constructed addition next to the gymnasium. He indicated that if the district doubled the proposed 500-seat capacity of the middle school gymnasium, it would increase project costs by $300,000 to $400,000.

Hayden and John Carly, also of HHSDR Architects/Engineers, proposed bidding options for the high school campus’ athletic complexes. Hayden said the district could repair and renovate the existing six tennis courts or construct four new tennis courts near the band parking lot.

Board member Mary Anne Jackson asked Hayden if the current tennis courts were in a “bad location.” Hayden said sub-surface water has created ongoing problems; however, it might be competing against other activities if located elsewhere.

Glass said the board might want to discuss if it should even continue the tennis program. Jackson and board member Susan Mikesell said the tennis courts are also valuable physical education resources to teachers and students.

“Yes, but are they $400,000 valuable?” Glass said. “It’s something for the board to discuss.”

Janocko suggested the district construct four tennis courts in the corner of the student parking lot. He said it was regularly unused space and only four or five cars parked there. He said the current tennis courts could become handicapped parking for spectators attending baseball and softball games.

Hayden said the board could renovate the football field with natural turf and new track and field events. He said it would also include the stadium walkways and fencing as well as the installation of drainage for the soccer field. However, the soccer irrigation system would be an alternative bid.

Or he said they could install new artificial turf, making the existing football field a multi-sport complex with new track and field events. He said it would also include stadium walkways and fencing and the installation of drainage at the soccer field.

Board members expressed to Hayden that they might not install drainage at the soccer field under this option. If they went with a multi-sport playing surface at the football field, they said the soccer field would only be used for team practices.

Carly said that turf fibers come in one of two forms – monofilaments or slit-film. He pointed out some fields feature a “hybrid” of both fiber types. Rick Bunning, director of buildings and grounds, indicated that Hamburg and Shamokin had field turf.

According to Carly, it comes down to the player and team preferences. Janocko said this year, his team competed on different playing surfaces, and his players prefer field turf.

Hayden said the bleacher renovation – home and visitors – would be packaged in a separate contract. He said sound systems for both the football and soccer fields and soccer field lighting would get packaged as electrical under a third contract.

Hayden said the athletic complex would be in the design phase through February at which time it’d enter the bidding phase. He said contracts could be awarded in March with construction scheduled for April through August.

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