CASD Approves Soil Exploration at CES

CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield Area School District Board of Directors authorized Hess & Fisher Engineers Inc. of Clearfield to conduct geotechnical drilling and engineering soil boring in preparation of the proposed additions and renovations at the Clearfield Elementary School campus.

The board is currently considering the consolidation of the Clearfield Area Middle School and the Centre and Bradford Township Elementary Schools into one building. It’s also considering the conversion of the CES into a kindergarten through sixth grade campus. The board is limiting the maximum CES total project costs to $10,669,360 and its new construction only costs to $8,008,000, according to previous reports.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, the Hess & Fisher proposal was approved in the amount of $20,385 based upon Hess & Fisher’s knowledge of the geology and soils in the surrounding area, as well as their previous exploratory work at the CES. The district’s architect, HHSDR, recommended that the district approve the Hess & Fisher proposal based on their familiarity with the CES site, said Superintendent Dr. Thomas B. Otto.

In 1996, Hess & Fisher provided the same services for the original CES campus. They directed substantial drilling specific to evaluating the engineering properties of the soils within the site. They also provided geotechnical recommendations for the school foundation, according to the proposal.

Because of the site materials, prior testing and current foundations, Hess & Fisher said it could condense the suggested testing to verification of the materials as originally determined to be present specific to the planned addition location. There are several boreholes and test holes in the location of the addition, but verification is dictated.

According to the proposal, given that the original foundation system is structurally rigid, the caissons being socketed into sandstone bedrock and that the building is on grade beams, the building is not subjected to consolidation of the subgrade unconsolidated materials. In addition, given that there is more than 20 feet of unconsolidated material that is frequently saturated to the surface, compression of the subgrade material is a significant concern.

In fact, Hess & Fisher indicated that the existing rigid foundation structure compels that the planned addition be supported in a similar manner. Otherwise, differential compaction of the new addition will settle the addition relative to the existing building, and attachments will be subject to stresses that may fracture such attachments.

In its professional opinion, Hess & Fisher said it’s necessary for there to be a continuance of the existing foundation system given the geotechnical composition of the CES site. Consequently, their “verification of the site materials becomes sufficient and adequate for the need.”

This approach will reduce the costs involved with testing given that the approximately 20-foot test borings were performed during original construction and a significant degree of uniformity of subgrade lithologic and mechanical properties was established, according to the proposal.

Hess & Fisher determined that the planned conservation hole is not needed. The original borings neither encountered any subgrade mining beneath the school structure, nor the location of the addition. Hess & Fisher said these logs will satisfy the Clearfield County Conservation District. In addition, the local mining industry indicates that there aren’t any minable coal seams beneath the CES site. The Hess & Fisher professional geologist will attest and certify the same.

Notably, Hess & Fisher said that acid mine drainage is coming onto the property from up-gradient old deep mines as well as surface mines that concluded years ago. In a consultation with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), its senior council outlined the DEP’s position with regard to such occurrences and the liability/non-liability relationship with property owners. Hess & Fisher said the significance of the DEP policy is such that there’s an obligation not to aggravate or enhance the acid mine drainage characteristics by virtue of disturbances. Hess & Fisher said it will evaluate the mine hydrogeology in order to ensure that no liability for these water emissions is incurred.

So far as the CES building project, the board is weighing two options. Option 1 would include a two-wing expansion and a kitchen addition at the CES. Option 2 is similar with a “reduced scope” that eliminates the kitchen addition, which significantly reduces its costs.

By consolidating into the CES, the district would experience a personnel savings of $951,153, in addition to the utilities and maintenance savings of $454,462. This would potentially result in a total annual savings of $1,405,615, according to previous reports.

On Oct. 8, the board held a 780 hearing to consider the closing of the middle school and the Bradford Township and Centre Elementary Schools. By law, it must wait 90 days after the hearing before it can decide upon closing a school building.

On Nov. 5, the board conducted an Act 34 hearing to consider the expansion and renovation of the CES. By law, it must conduct an Act 34 hearing on all new construction and for any substantial addition that is greater than 20 percent.

The district hasn’t made any decision regarding the consolidation of the middle school and Bradford Township and Centre Elementary into the CES. In addition, it hasn’t made any decision regarding the proposed renovation and expansion at the CES campus.

Also at Monday night’s meeting, the board approved for J.W. Taylor & Son LLC to replace the existing roofing on the boiler room roof located behind the district’s Central Office. When asked, Otto said the shingles are coming off and hitting vehicles parked there. The proposal was approved in the amount of $3,300.

Rick Bunning, director of buildings and grounds, said it was the only bid received. He said in this case, the state’s Department of Education only required the district to obtain one bid. He said that the district has worked with J.W. Taylor & Son LLC in the past.

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