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Elk Lake Expands the Career and Technology Center Project

A change order was approved at Tuesday night’s special meeting of the Elk Lake School Board for additional space for the expansion project at the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center. The change will add 2,314 square feet to the overall project, but will not increase the total cost of the project.

Wondering how that was possible, it was explained that there were funds allocated for movable equipment/furnishings as well as technology items that were tapped to offset the additional building expenses. Since the total cost will remain the same, about $7.6 million, the estimated state reimbursement should have no change either.

Board member Anne Teel asked Architect John Kropcho, who presented the facts and figures of the change order, “Is there a reason we didn’t plan this way?” Kropcho responded it was “because we thought at the time (three years ago) that there wouldn’t be enough money.”

He said the bidding was done at a good time when there was little construction going on, and bidders were “hungry.” But now the change order can be done for the same amount of total money, and increasing the space now will be of benefit.

If they were to do it in three years, instead of now, Kropcho estimated it would cost an additional million dollars. Money taken from the equipment/furniture funds will still leave enough funds in those areas for the school to function. However, there is only about another $200,000 that can be used for future change orders, if necessary, and then it could present a problem.

Craig Sprout expressed concern about the funding numbers and percentages, and had apparently communicated with the Department of Education and came short of the estimated 51 percent reimbursement that the district had calculated. His figures came out to 35 percent, but it was explained that the figures that he gave the state weren’t correct. Sprout is also concerned about the money the district is getting from gas royalties, which have amounted to $901,709.05 as of the May payment. He wondered if the state would look at those numbers and think the district isn’t as bad off as many other districts and might lower reimbursement.

Since funding for the Career Center must be applied for through Elk Lake School, he asked if it wouldn’t reduce reimbursement since Elk Lake apparently has gas money, which other districts don’t have. He was reassured that it would not alter the calculations because the reimbursement is based on the cost of the project. Sprout then asked if the gas money could be used to give taxpayers a credit, but Superintendent Bill Bush said that it was impossible to do so in the current financial framework. Bush explained that some of the gas money has been used to balance next year’s budget.

The project change will eliminate a “dog leg” in the building plan with a bearing wall being replaced, and that will give the added square footage. The additional space will give the health information area, which had “tight” spacing, more area that will make for a very functional space.

A building and industry and community area will now have its own space and a separate entrance from the parking lot and will no longer share space with the job seeking skills area.

The next regular meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 23 at 7 p.m.

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