Build Middle School, Downingtown Told

Posted: September 09, 1990

Consultants for the Downingtown Area School District recommended building a new middle school although it would cost $4 million more than if the district renovated a junior high.

The Heery Program Management Inc. of Bala Cynwyd expected a new middle school to cost $15.4 million. Renovating and converting Lionville Junior High into a middle school was estimated at $11.4 million. The direct cost to the district would vary for either project, depending on the state reimbursement, consultant Stuart Lacy said Wednesday at a work session of the school board.

Renovating Lionville would take four years, including two years in which the school would be closed. Temporary trailers would be set up on an adjacent site during that time, Lacy said.

Even if the school were renovated, it would not result in "an ideal school," he said. Some of the problems include:

* The classrooms are not the same size.

* The auditorium and gymnasium would have to be enlarged.

* A new heating and air-conditioning system would have to be installed.

* Asbestos would have to be removed.

Although a new school would be more costly, it would benefit the district more in the long run, Lacy said.

The district paid Heery $9,850 to do the study. Heery also was hired to oversee the building project at a cost of $1.5 million. The board did not take any action on building or renovating the schools.

The board also is considering building a high school scheduled to open for the 1993-94 academic year. A new high school is expected to cost about $25 million.

Last month, there was some debate whether the new schools were needed. The board is waiting for the results of a population study by the Pennsylvania Economy League before moving ahead with the projects.

Before approving any building plan, the board wants a clause in the architects contract that would permit it to stop the design work at any time if enrollment did not increase as expected. Last month, the Vitetta Group of Philadelphia was selected as the architects, but the $2.1 million contract was not approved. The board is expected to make the deal final Wednesday.

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