Will Havre de Grace get a brand new, $71 million building to replace its antiquated high school, or will the Harford County Board of Education choose to modernize the existing facilities at a lower cost? The answer may come at a board business meeting planned for December 3rd.
Board members were first presented with the options for Havre de Grace High at a board meeting last month, but delayed a vote to allow for public input and further review. Now, the weighty decision on Havre de Grace High is back on the December 3rd meeting agenda.
Havre de Grace High – The Options
The existing Havre de Grace High School is comprised of two building complexes on opposite sides of Congress Avenue, which is closed during the school day. The total school facilities are approximately 144,000 sq. ft., with a state-rated capacity of 850 students. Less than 700 students are currently enrolled, according to the latest available figures.
Under the replacement option favored by Superintendent Tomback and County Executive David Craig, one new school building will be constructed in a new location on the school campus, on the west side of Juniata Street in an area now occupied by baseball and softball fields. Unlike the other options studied, the replacement (Option C) allows construction to take place without disrupting school operations. The new, 225,000 sq.ft. building also allows for expanded student capacity, increased from 850 up to 1,148 students.
Other, less costly options presented include limited renovation ($49 million, Option A) and modernization ($61 – 65 million, Option B), each of which include some demolition and new construction involving the existing two buildings. Click below for a detailed review of the existing facilities and the various options:
When first presented with their choices on November 5th, board members expressed a number of concerns with Option C as presented.
Portions of the new construction, mainly the planned entry road, lie within a 100 year floodplain. The new entry road would also require arched culverts to be built over branches of the flood-prone Lilly Run, which is to undergo a planned restoration.
Board Member Jim Thornton asked whether the school system might be asked to absorb some of the restoration cost for Lilly Run if the board went forward with Option C. Joe Licata, HCPS chief of administration, said it was possible that the school system would incur some of the cost.
Board Member Bob Frisch questioned the need for more capacity in the new building, noting the excess capacity in the existing school, and flat enrollment projections.
Board President Rick Grambo said the location of the new school close to the Amtrack railroad tracks was a potential danger. He also asked if the section of Congress Avenue that divides the existing school facilities might be closed permanently, allowing for greater flexibility in the options presented. A staff member responded at the time, saying that the decision to close the road must first be approved by the Havre de Grace City Council, and then sent to a local referendum.
Whichever option is approved by the school board, the next steps for Havre de Grace High include state planning approval and funding approval for the design phase. Total construction time for the replacement option is estimated at 36 months. All plans are subject to county and state funding availability.
In other board business, the December 3rd consent agenda includes a $202,510 contract award to Hayes Construction of Phoenix, MD, for the replacement of exterior doors and related hardware at Southampton Middle School. According to the agenda exhibits, the existing doors and hardware are more than 40 years old.
Board members will also be asked to take action on three new, or newly revised, policies.
The new policy entitled “Epinephrine Availability and Use” is a response to state legislation requiring local school boards to address staff training to recognize the symptoms of anaphylaxis; procedures for the use of auto-injectable epinephrine, and follow-up emergency procedures.
Revisions to the School Activity Fund Policy will also be presented for approval. The revisions more specifically define school activity funds, which include fundraising proceeds and donations, and set strict management guidelines for cash receipts and disbursements.
Lastly, a minor revision to the policy on the prohibition of gang related activity will be presented for approval. The revision was made to include the stated use of a standard reporting form.
A board vote is also planned on the financing for a previously approved $16 million Energy Performance Phase III contract with Johnson Controls. Following a presentation by Jim Jewell, assistant superintendent of business services, Superintendent Tomback will recommend financing through an equipment lease purchase agreement with JPMorgan and Co., which was the lowest bidder. The amount to be financed through the agreement is $14,248,426. Debt payments for the equipment financing will be covered by savings in energy and operating costs. The agreement is subject to further approval by the Harford County Council.
As usual, the meeting will conclude with a report from Superintendent Tomback.
The December 3rd meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom at the A.A. Roberty Building in Bel Air. The public comment period is set for 6:35 p.m. Below is the published meeting agenda, plus exhibits. Please note that published agendas are subject to change.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Board Closed Session – 5:30 PM – Board Executive Conference Room
Board Business Meeting – 6:30 PM – Board Room
*Times are approximate
Call to Order – Mr. Francis F. Grambo, III, Board President
Quorum Roll Call
Adoption of Agenda
Pledge of Allegiance
6:35 PM Public Comment
6:50 PM Introductions
7:00 PM Board Committee Reports and Comments
7:15 PM A. Consent Agenda:
1) Affirmation of Monthly Contracts (Goal 4)
2) Minutes of Previous Board Business Meeting: November 19, 2012 (Goals 1 – 4)
7:20 PM B. Decision on Board Policies, Patrick P. Spicer, Esq. (Goal 2)
– Epinephrine Availability and Use (Policy No. 02-0051-000)
– Prohibition of Gang Related Activities (Policy No. 02-0008-000)
– School Activity Funds (Policy No. 06-0021-000)
7:30 PM C. Decision on Financing Schools Phase III Energy Lease, Mr. James M. Jewell (Goal 4)
7:40 PM D. Decision on Havre de Grace High School Scope Study, Mr. Cornell S. Brown (Goal 4)
7:45 PM E. Superintendent’s Report
7:55 PM Future Meetings Review