Renovation and expansion projects at Eisenhower Middle High School and Sheffield Area Middle High School are moving forward.
At its meeting Monday evening, the Physical Plant and Facilities Committee of the Warren County School District's board of directors forwarded educational specifications for both projects, as well as Plan Con parts A and B for the Sheffield project, to the full board for action.
Those steps are necessary components as the school district seeks to convert Sheffield and Eisenhower into K-12 facilities, projects that are slated to be completed in time for the start of the 2015-2016 school year.
Educational specifications outline how the spaces that are part of a project will be used from an academic standpoint. Plan Con is the school construction process laid out by the state of Pennsylvania.
"We do have ed specs back," Dr. Norbert Kennerknecht, district director of building and grounds, said. However, he explained that the specifications aren't quite ready for public consumption.
"It's going to take a little bit," he said. "(We) need to bring them in compliance with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the budget. It's a process of highlighting items that are not included in the construction budget. Going forward, we want to be clear what is in the construction budget and what isn't."
Kennerknecht said the finalized specifications will be brought to the board for action on Thursday, when the board holds a special meeting to give final approval to the 2012-2013 budget.
Committee Chairwoman Donna Zariczny said that, at Eisenhower, PDE is allowing the elementary expansion to be merged with the renovation, allowing the projects to be sent out for bids together.
"That is very important," Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel said. "Being able to bid this project out as one, we might get a better price. The other benefit to that is we will be able to 'right size' the heating, electrical and fire suppression into one project now instead of doing it as two separate projects.
"(It) will help us get the project done faster and at a better price."
Because the Eisenhower project exceeds 20 percent of the total square footage of the building, a public hearing is required under Act 34 to review the proposed plans.
According to the state statute, "prior to entering into a contract to construct a new school building or substantial additions to existing school buildings without the consent of the electors...the board of school directors shall conduct a public hearing."
Because of advertising requirements, Kennerknecht indicated that the hearing could not be held until later in July. He proposed July 23 at 7 p.m. at the Eisenhower auditorium, but the date has not been finalized.
A hearing is not required for the Sheffield project.
Board member Tom Knapp asked when the "first shovel will hit the ground?"
"Not soon enough," Hufnagel said. "It's my hope that we are in the ground by late fall. From what we understand, we should be able to hit that timeline, same at Sheffield if not a little bit earlier."