Big HVAC project under review at GASD; Asst. Superintendent Lay will retire

At its regular board meeting on Tuesday evening, the GASD school board approved replacement of the high school athletic field and received a final briefing on the $33.8 million HVAC replacement at Lincoln and James Gettys elementary schools. A final vote to approve the latter project is anticipated at the next scheduled meeting, September 19.

Four members, AmyBeth Hodges, Ryan Morris, Jeremy Davis, and Timon Linn, had excused absences.

GASD

Public Comment

Two citizens spoke during public comment. Laurie Schneider expressed concern and requested status about the hiring of school resource officers. President Ken Hassinger took the occasion to give a full status report. The district has advertised for additional SROs, but the Board is still looking at the budget. The advertisement was for a fulltime director, who has been hired (Pat O’Shea) and two additional officers. The timing of getting them all in place is uncertain because it is a lengthy process, first interviewing and hiring, then extensive training. The school district currently relies on Gettysburg Borough, Cumberland Township, and the state police barracks for Franklin Elementary School. Hassinger agreed that response time is an issue but stated that there is extensive planning and coordination.

Jay Rohrbach expressed concern about the proposed HVAC project, in particular that a single contractor will be selected for design and all other aspects of the project.

Routine Business and Announcements

Dr. Christina Lay, deputy superintendent, is retiring at the end of December.

The board approved the project to replace the high school athletic field by a vote of 5-0.

The 2022-2025 future ready comprehensive plan has been developed as the result of a lengthy planning process involving a committee made up of school district employees and members of the public. This is an important assessment of the current situation and a plan for the future. Dr. Lay said it would be posted “after this meeting” for 28 days comment and then presented for final approval in October.

The major item of business, taking approximately 40 minutes of the hour-long meeting, was a presentation of the final plan for the HVAC project at James Gettys and Lincoln elementary schools. The original plan was modified to defer the administration building to keep the project within the budget. As redefined, the budget for the two schools is $33.789 million.

The project involves more than the HVAC system, including replacing roofs and ceilings, electrical system upgrades, and installing LED lights, which will be programmable for optimum lighting and reduced energy consumption. Finally, data lines will be replaced although, with wireless, it’s anticipated there will be far fewer lines.

Trane Comprehensive Solutions is the selected contractor, and the project is scheduled to start Spring 2023. A decision by the September 19 meeting is needed to ensure the contract is finalized before December 31 and to avoid anticipated price hikes after the New Year.

Several board members expressed concerns about the project. Michelle Smyers repeated a question she had asked previously, whether maintenance records indicated the existing systems were at the end of their service lives. But the decision was made from building assessments so maintenance issues weren’t a factor.

There were also concerns about the bidding method and project design decisions that resulted in only a single company (Trane) bidding. For example, Barton Associates, designer, declined to work for another potential bidder, McClure, which resulted in McClure pulling out of the bidding.

Leon Reed, freelance reporter, is a former US Senate staff member, defense consultant, and history teacher. He is a seven year resident of Gettysburg, where he writes military history and explores the park and the Adams County countryside. He is the publisher at Little Falls Books, chaired the Adams County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee and is on the board of SCCAP and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. He and his wife, Lois, have 3 children, 3 cats, and 5 grandchildren.

 

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