by Jonathan Weaver
Armstrong School District board directors will further discuss and make a decision tonight as to where a proposed new high school will be located.
L.R. Kimball architects compared two sites during the open caucus session Thursday evening: a 65-acre property near Barker Appliance between Manor and Kittanning Township and another 68-acre parcel of land along Buffington Road in Manor Township.
A third site was originally considered but eliminated since it would have to be purchased. The considered properties would be no cost to the district.
L.R. Kimball K-12 Market Segment Leader John Hummel gave their recommendation.
“This was a preliminary site evaluation as you has asked for, a very cursory analysis of three available sites to see which one is worth the closer look. Of the ones we see, its obvious that Site 1 is identified as clearly far-and-away the one that’s worth that first closer look,” Hummel said.
Architects recommended school directors pursue ‘Site 1’ – the site along Buffington Road off Route 422 – due to its landscape, no zoning requirements and views. The 68 acres would be part of an 168-acreage lot.
However, there were concerns regarding mining and since there is only one access road. Additional studies on the land – including an environmental assessment, topographical surveys and receiving accurate sewage and water availability – are also requested.
Hummel said not to consider the single access road an obstacle.
“This would certainly-not be the first school campus, nor the last school campus, with one access road. It’s a question of how is that developed,” Hummel said. “There are so many campuses like that now throughout Pennsylvania. It’s nothing to be concerned about.
“In my experience, it’s not so much whether or not you can develop it: it’s how you develop it,” he added.
Approximately $9.6 million is available for construction soft costs.
Architects also discussed the possible grade 9-12th school with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, who reportedly approved preliminary data to continue with PlanCon A: Description and Justification and B: schematic site and floor plans.
“He is satisfied that it is in full-compliance with all the requirements the Department expects of the study,” Hummel reported.
New Region III Board Member Linda Walker recommended ‘Site 1’ be further considered as recommended.
Project Manager Brian Hayes also gave school board directors an updated District-wide facility study.
“From the time that we started on this new path, we have been documenting the process and the study has basically been a ‘working’ document until now. Now, it is compiled in a final document that outlines everything we have been talking about and meets the requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s study requirements for the purpose of getting reimbursement on a subsequent project,” Hayes said.
A copy is to be available to the public at the District Administration Building in Manor Township once accepted.
The meeting tonight begins at 7:30PM. School board directors will also consider a request to organize a girls’ soccer cooperative.
More than 30 students at Kittanning, Ford City and West Shamokin were reportedly interested in the sport, of which would be played at the field near Lenape Technical School.