CASD Considering Act 34 Hearing for Elementary Project

CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield school board is considering a resolution for holding an Act 34 public hearing as well as setting the cost limitations for the proposed Clearfield Elementary School building project.

The board is leaning toward consolidating the Clearfield Middle School and the Centre and Bradford Township Elementary Schools and converting the CES into a kindergarten through sixth grade campus.  It’s considering two options so far as the CES expansion project.

Option 1 would include a two-wing expansion and a kitchen addition at the CES. Each grade level would have seven classrooms, except kindergarten, which would have 10 classrooms. The guidance area would be expanded and a security vestibule added to the school’s entrance, according to a prior report.

This first option costs $10.4 million and has higher site costs because the two-wing addition would displace the playground area. The second option is similar but would have a “reduced scope” and eliminate the kitchen addition, which significantly reduces its costs. Option 2 costs $8.8 million.

By law, the board must conduct an Act 34 public hearing, because the proposed CES expansion is greater than 20 percent. Act 34 requires that a public hearing be held on all new construction as well as for any substantial additions.

At committee meetings Monday night, J. Greer Hayden of HHSDR Architects/Engineers of Sharon said by adopting the resolution at its regular meeting next week, the board would be permitting for the Act 34 hearing’s advertisement. He said this must include the project’s description beyond the “brick and mortar” and outline the costs and finances, the agenda of presenters and procedural rules.

According to him, likely presenters would be himself, Superintendent Dr. Thomas B. Otto, Business Administrator Sam Maney, Solicitor Aimee Willett and a representative from the PFM Group, the district’s financial advisor. Afterward, he said the hearing would be open for the public’s input on the pros and cons of the proposed CES expansion.

Hayden said the board must specify rules for the public participation so that it maintains order and allows attendees to speak. He said this segment of the Act 34 hearing can be customized by the board regarding the rules, such as imposing time limits on public participants.

He said the advertisement must include documentation as to where the public can obtain paperwork related to the CES expansion project. He said the project remains open for public input for 30 days following the Act 34 public hearing.

Hayden said the board must include the various alternatives and options given consideration and its final determination. He said it also includes a narrative description of the project’s design and footprints of the project’s floor plans, including the addition(s) location.

According to him, in adopting the resolution, the board must accept cost limitations for the CES expansion. He said the proposed resolution only permitted for a project of up to $10.669 million; it limits building construction only costs to approximately $8 million. He didn’t believe the board would have any issues staying within these cost limitations for the project.

Hayden said if approved, the public hearing must be advertised 20 days prior to the hearing date. He proposed the board conduct the Act 34 public hearing Monday, Oct. 29.

In addition to the Act 34 public hearing, the board must have a 780 public hearing, which it’s previously approved of. At this hearing, the board will hear public input regarding the closure of the middle school and the Centre and Bradford Township Elementary Schools. One hearing will be held for all three buildings at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8 in the middle school auditorium.

Before the closure of any school building, the board must advertise its consideration of the same for 15 days prior to the Act 780 public hearing. By law, Act 780 is a public hearing, required by school districts before consolidation can be considered. In addition, it must be held no less than three months before a decision can be made.

The board is expected to make its final middle school and elementary closure determinations Jan. 21, 2013.

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