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LASD Rescinds Bigger’s Resignation, studies new school designs

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Although the Littlestown Area School District board of directors had reluctantly accepted it just weeks before, it gladly and unanimously approved a retraction of the resignation of Superintendent Christopher Bigger on Sept. 20. Bigger said there had been developments that changed his plans to take a position in Washington D.C. The LASD board voted unanimously to approve the retraction and withdrawal of his resignation letter and rescind the acceptance of his resignation.

The board did however, approve to accept the resignation of Littlestown High School Principal, Dr. Matthew Meakin, effective October 31, 2021. As Meakin leaves the district, the board approved Joel Moran to be the Interim High School Principal beginning on Oct. 18, 2021, for the remainder of the school year. The board will begin the process of hiring a new principal for the high school to fill the position for the 2022 – 2023 school year.

The board also focused on the feasibility study for the capital project. RLPS Architects representatives Andrew Blaydon and Chris Linkey presented the steering committee recommendation for the project regarding the Littlestown High School and Maple Avenue Middle School (MAMS).

The recommendation provided the board with the best option for combining the middle and high schools to accommodate grades 6 through 12, organized by grade, while addressing the renovations and upgrades needed at the high school. “I think that an important part of this is that the whole existing school gets upgraded to a point they (LASD) can afford,” stated Linkey. “It’s a holistic view of that, not just pieces and parts.”

The option discussed would include the renovation of 189,000 square feet of the high school and an addition of 53,000 square feet. The additions would give the school new entrances, particularly to the new competition gymnasium, a new central kitchen, administration area, and separate entrances for middle and high school students.

The options for the MAMS building were presented as “mothballing” the building as was done with Rolling Hill Elementary, or to demolish the building to provide new parking and a grass area. Overall, there would be a 70,500 reduction of occupied square feet.

There would be no significant changes in bus transportation and staff efficiencies will increase with the central kitchen. “We looked at having more efficiency utility wise, and adding air conditioning to the buildings. We are seeing a potential 5 to 10 percent reduction in energy costs,” Linkey said. “You will have newer buildings which are easier to clean and maintain. There will be less square footage to maintain, so we see a potential of 10 to 20 percent operational savings from the middle school and high school budgets.”

The Capital Project’s estimated cost range is $43M to $49M.

Questions were raised by the board regarding the $6M difference in the range presented. Andrew Blaydon noted that the difference was in how much of the building would be renovating as a baseline as opposed to moving walls. “As a baseline, there will be more areas where we’re not moving walls, but we’re putting new mechanical and electrical systems, new windows, new roof, and painting and cleaning up the spaces,” he said. “As we get closer to the full scheme, we move walls and get the building closer to your aligned programs as it would require.”

The project would allow for separate bus and car drop off and pick up areas. The administration area would be positioned closer to the entrances with a clear line of sight of the facilities, and act as a separation between the middle school and high school students.

Superintendent Christopher Bigger impressed upon the board that the project is far from the final rendering. “This is what we can do, but this won’t be the final product,” said Bigger. “The design phase will determine the final product. Throughout the next year we can really dive into the specifics of all the blocks that they are showing us.”

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Christina Grim grew up in Shippensburg, PA, Franklin County, and graduated from Shippensburg Area High School. She is an experienced interviewer, researcher, and news reporter, having worked for the Shippensburg News-Chronicle as a staff reporter during college. Driven by the desire to know the facts and answers to today’s issues, she takes seriously the importance of providing the best reporting possible. Ms. Grim earned her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Messiah College and has worked in her field, either in print or radio/streamed media for the last 25 years. As a single mother, she has learned that the best things in life come from hard work and multi-tasking. She is the mother of two adult children and two cats

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