Category: Armstrong School District

Military Tribute, Upgraded Flooring Options Presented for New School

A conceptual drawing of the military tribute

By Jonathan Weaver

Armstrong School District board directors are considering two design upgrades to the new Armstrong Junior-Senior High School in Manor Township.

L.R. Kimball Project Manager Brian Hayes presented a conceptual drawing of a military tribute for outside the library plaza.

“We developed this idea to provide a place of honor for veterans of the military. It’s a place of prominence on top of a hill with a scenic overlook,” Hayes said. “Those types of spaces are really cause for reflection.”

An 30-foot by 60-foot American flag would also serve as a focal point coming across the Judge Graff Bridge into Ford City to identify the school.

A Commonwealth flag, the five flags symbolizing each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and a flag dedicated to those Prisoners of War or Missing in Action would also be part of the tribute.

The tribute would also include a walkway of personalized bricks leading to the 100-foot tall flagpole (which would be more than 50 feet taller than that portion of the school) as part of a legacy brick program.

“There are enough bricks there for a reasonable amount per brick that it could probably pay for the entire project,” Hayes said.

Hayes said L.R. Kimball also designed a brick program at Penn State University.

Superintendent Stan Chapp was confident school administrators would be able to sell the 5,000 bricks as part of the program – at a cost of $75 per brick – “very quickly.”

The overall tribute would cost about $245,000, but the excess would cover the cost of memorial bricks. About $80,000 of expenses could be eliminated from the final cost if items are donated.

A $6,000 deduct change order would also be applied after moving and upgrading the flag pole from outside the building entrance.

Board Vice-President Christopher Choncek and other school directors said they would have to think about the tribute since it could cut into educational benefits for students.

Reynolds Construction On-Site Managers Rochelle Fennell and Stephen Reckhart also showed school directors samples of upgraded flooring that could save the school district maintenance cost in the future.

“We’re going to be moving into finishes, and the building contractor came to us and asked if the district would be interested in upgrading the flooring material,” Fennell said.

About 150,000 square feet of school hallways and classrooms are currently designed to utilize basic vinyl composition tile (VCT) – which has grown softer after asbestos was removed and could crack causing the state of Ohio to not even allow the material in their schools.

“They recommend a minimum of 3-5 layers of wax on it to protect it – which is a big undertaking to clean all the rooms,” Fennell said. “Based on our experience, you could have a concrete floor looking beautifully, and after you put VCT down, the next day you will see every blue mark and imperfection – especially in the corridor.”

Facilities Director Bill Henley said staff members currently clean flooring with two coats of seal and four coats of wax.

“No matter what you do, after the first day of school you come back three weeks later, it just looks like you didn’t do anything to those floors,” Henley said. “It doesn’t take long

Because of the problems, Fennell said an enhanced vinyl tile (VET) or a luxury vinyl tile (LVT) has been more-utilized lately. VET would cost about a dollar more per tile and LVT about $1.20 more.

“The main difference is the contractor is saying that VCT has 125 PSI strength, when you go to VET it rises to 400 and when you go to LVT, it goes to 500PSI,” Fennell said. “We think it would be a great improvement and upgrade to your school, and that you’ll be much-happier with either of these products.”

LVT tiles also would not have to be waxed by maintenance staff members, but there aren’t as many colors to choose from.

“If you start looking at material cost and labor cost with what you put into these floors now, you would get a pay back with this stuff in about 3-4 years,” Henley said. “We use a tremendous amount of money.”

An incorrect alternate bid was submitted in original designs – which are why construction managers did not recommend the upgrade.


School Directors Allow Athletic Bids to Expire

Instead of asking contractors to extend bids for a new sports complex at Armstrong Junior-Senior High School, Armstrong School District board directors will allow those bids to expire and re-evaluate plans.

by Jonathan Weaver

About six bids to build a $10 million athletic complex at the new Armstrong Junior-Senior High School will expire tomorrow, but Armstrong School District Board President Joseph Close updated school directors Monday that other options are still possible.

“It doesn’t seem as though anything like that is possible at this point,” Close said. “The bids will lapse in a couple days, so that pretty-much is the end of that saga right now.

“But, I do believe the Board needs to continue to look at that and see what we can do. It’s something we need to revamp and put something else together and look at where we’re at with funding.”

At last week’s open caucus session, school directors discussed other ways to facilitate athletics – including utilizing Ford City or Kittanning fields or constructing “scaled-back” versions of original plans – after Close learned from ASD Foundation President and Kittanning Junior High Principal Kirk Lorigan that about $1 million was raised.

District Facilities Director Bill Henley told school directors last week several areas the athletic facilities would need to be updated to allow for Triple-A capacity crowds and competition.

Board Director Amy Lhote mentioned there were, including possibly putting the issue on an election referendum during the spring Primary Election.

Board Director Stan Berdell gave his thoughts on the athletic facilities after being out-of-town during last week’s open caucus session, and said it may be a good opportunity to also see how existing schools are through a facilities study.

Region III Board Director Stan Berdell, who said he has mixed feelings on the issue, said it may be time to look at other existing facilities in the school as well.

“We’ll have to try and work out something else to get those facilities on-track,” Berdell said. “But we all talked and the district as a whole, and I’d like to suggest updating our facilities study to put together some sort of plan to look at some of those outlying schools.

It’s really important to show we’re concerned about the whole district.”

He also recalled where plans to build a field house at the West Shamokin Junior-Senior High school lapsed – 12 years ago.

“There are tough decisions coming up,” Berdell concluded.

Close agreed and said a resolution after discussion with L.R. Kimball engineers could be considered as early as next month.

School directors also unanimously hired to outsource substitute teachers to a New Jersey-based company later this school year.

Source4Teachers has worked with nearly 50 Pennsylvania school districts the past two school years – including several in Westmoreland County – and is in-talks with the ARIN Intermediate Unit in an effort to minimize future healthcare and retirement costs.

“ASD makes substitutes feel like part of a family. The schools welcome them and they work toward a common goal,” one substitute from Rural Valley said. “The schools know their substitutes and trust them, as do the students enough to talk to us about things outside the school realm.”

Current district substitutes would be recommended for hire by Source4Teachers during their initial six-month trail contract that begins in January, Business Director Samuel Kirk said. The company will also be attending career fairs to add to a pool of new substitutes available.

The contract was approved unanimously, 6-0. School Directors Paul Lobby, James Rearic and Timothy Scaife were absent from the meeting.

Kittanning High Metal Shop Teacher Tom Caves returned to make a public comment before voting began.

In October 2012, Caves spoke before plans were finalized to ask for more storage space in the technical education department. He was pleased to see school directors would later vote for a change order to permit that.

“Those concerns have been met and exceeded. I’m excited to go to the new junior-senior high school and be part of this,” Caves said.

An executive session for personnel and a legal matter was held before the meeting began.

As read by Solicitor John Smart, school directors voted unanimously to hire James Gaggini as a substitute assistant superintendent on a day-to-day emergency basis. His appointment can be up until the last day of the current school year.

According to personnel documents, Assistant Superintendent Lyn Logelin took a leave of absence effective September 29 through May 9 and applied for retirement effective in May.

In 2008, Gaggini retired after 35 years as an educator and administrator, lastly being named Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education and Pupil Services.