OJR stockpiles $22.8M to renovate East Vincent Elementary School

The East Vincent Elementary School project plan.

EAST VINCENT—Renovations to East Vincent Elementary School will total an estimated $22,878,564 but won’t have a heavy impact on taxpayers, according to Owen J. Roberts School District officials.

At an Act 34 public hearing on the project on Oct. 23, district Chief Financial Officer Jaclyn Krumrine said the district will pay cash for the renovations, using money it has saved over the last 10 years.

“Over the past decade we have been saving incrementally for this project. There will not be a significant tax impact,” Krumrine said. “The only tax impact will be those indirect costs associated with maintenance of the building.”

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Indirect costs, including maintenance, materials, fuel and other expenses will run the district an additional $44,000. However, no staff positions are expected to be added as a result of the project, other than those dictated by population growth.

District officials had looked at various options for financing the construction project, including floating a bond. However, borrowing money would have added millions of dollars in interest payments over a 25-year period.

The renovation is part of a phased project that will take place over the next several years, involving a complete overhaul of the East Vincent building first, and then the East Coventry Elementary School. Once the East Vincent project is complete, East Coventry renovations will begin, with students from that school moving temporarily into the East Vincent facility for the 2015-16 school year.

The combined projects will create equity among the district’s five elementary buildings. East Coventry and East Vincent Elementary are the only district schools that do not have air conditioning, and both have large student populations over the 550 student capacity.

The public hearing dealt only with the East Vincent project, which district officials expect to begin in the spring. About 50 people attended.

Architect Jeffrey Chambers, who is designing the project, reviewed plans, which call for adding a two-story wing and eventually demolishing an existing wing dating back to the 1950s. But much of the project is aimed modernizing the building to better fit current educational needs.

“The district’s program is what drove the design,” Chambers explained.

The project will enable the school to create groupings of classrooms for each grade level. It will include a primary wing, with a kindergarten drop-off area and playground. Third and fourth grades will be housed on the upper level of the two-story addition, while fifth and sixth grades will be on the lower level. Each of those areas will contain a commons space for special projects or combined class lessons.

All classrooms will be provided with interactive projectors, and the building will be equipped with a wireless infrastructure that suit current and future technology needs.

In addition, there will be increased parking and better traffic flow, with parent drop-off and pick-up points separate from buses. Full-size art and music rooms will be included, and a library will be located in the center of the building, with a computer lab and seminar classroom. The cafeteria will be equipped with a folding wall so that it can serve two groups of students at the same time.

The administration area will be located near the entrance, and the entry area will feature a number of security measures, including electronic locks, monitored doors and multiple cameras. Air conditioning will be added to the building, and all heating, plumbing and electrical systems will be upgraded.

Maximum construction costs will total $13,949,085, while maximum total project costs, including fees, permits and other expenses, will not exceed $22,878,564, Chambers said.

The public hearing allowed for questions and comments from the public, however no member of the audience spoke and the hearing adjourned, lasting less than one hour.

The district hopes to award a bid for the project in December, and construction on the two-story addition will begin in the spring.

When that wing is completed next year, renovation can begin on the existing primary wing. At that point, the students currently taught in that part of the building would be moved into the new wing. Once the renovation is complete, in August 2015, East Coventry students would move into the East Vincent building, where they will be taught for one year while the East Coventry building undergoes renovations.

During the summer of 2016, the oldest portion of the East Vincent building, constructed in 1953, will be demolished, and the East Coventry renovation will be completed. East Coventry students will return to their renovated school in the fall of 2016.