School board votes to advance HS renovation/construction project

The Penn Manor board of school directors voted 7-1 Jan. 7 to advance the high school renovation and construction project.

The board approved the notice of intent to award construction bids totaling $82.7 million for the project, which will replace major portions of the school and renovate others.

New classroom, agricultural education and athletic wings will be built, along with a new auditorium and upgrades to the school’s HVAC, plumbing, electrical, fire suppression, technology and security systems.

The project also will include a new district office at the high school, which will open up space for classrooms at Manor Middle School, where the office is currently located.

Board members Ken Long, Nicki Nafziger, David Paitsel, Rich Frerichs, Joseph Fullerton, Donna Wert and Chris Straub voted in favor of accepting the bids. Carlton “Herk” Rintz voted against the measure. The ninth member, Mitchell Sweigart, was absent.

Construction bids came in higher than anticipated, but school district officials are confident the higher costs can be covered without an additional tax increase over the original, four-year funding plan.

The bids, opened Dec. 13, came in about $4.6 million above estimates. The total cost of the project, with all “soft costs,” including financing, construction management and contingency fees, is $99.9 million.

Penn Manor will be able to cover the additional expenses by using more of its reserve funds than originally planned, said Chris Johnston, the district’s business manager. Penn Manor has set aside $9.6 million so far for the project and has borrowed $40 million to cover initial phases and plans to borrow another $40 million to complete the project.

Major construction is scheduled to begin in March, and the project should be completed by summer 2022.