Last updated: February 19. 2013 8:36PM - 386 Views

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DALLAS TWP. ‚?? Dallas School District may have bragging rights to Luzerne County‚??s newest high school, at a cost in excess of $40 million, but the school board is still grappling with a problematic building: Dallas Elementary.

The 40-year-old structure is rife with roof leaks, plumbing problems and wiring woes. Fixing it could run up to $15.5 million, according to an estimate unveiled at Monday‚??s board meeting.

The board arguably hit a financial sweet spot when it launched the high school project in 2008. But now is not a good time for such expensive ventures: Gov. Tom Corbett has mothballed the state‚??s school construction reimbursement program and is reviewing the whole system.

But faced with chronic repairs for a school built in haste using modular construction, the board is studying options, and the company that designed the high school ‚?? Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates Architects ‚?? delivered one of what has become a series of reports as it reviews the school and the school board‚??s options.

The report offers a cloudy projection on student enrollment: Census data shows consistent though slowing growth in the four municipalities that comprise the district, and enrollment has climbed accordingly, from 2,320 in 1990 to 2,709 this year. A census-based projection shows further growth, to 2,901 students in 2020.

Yet Pennsylvania Department of Education projections ‚?? used by the state to determine reimbursement of construction costs ‚?? show enrollment dropping to 2,238 by 2020.

State projections, based primarily on birth rates, have proven unreliable in the past. Hazleton Area trimmed down its schools in a district-wide renovation project a decade ago and found itself woefully short of space years later.

The report notes that, while the school is structurally safe, it suffers from a plethora of problems.

Repairing pipes under the slab is problematic, while settling walls have made windows inoperable. The roof suffers from recurring leaks, water penetration has diminished the function of insulation, and ventilation and electrical units are nearing or have exceeded their expected service life.

The report offers two options: complete renovation, or razing and replacing everything but four classrooms added in 1990 and the gym built in 1997. Estimates for option A run from $7.7 million to $9.2 million; estimates for option B are $13.9 million to $15.5 million.

The report includes ‚??conceptual design‚?Ě drawings for option B, converting the T-shaped, single-story school into a more compact two-story structure with increased parking where the bulk of the building now stands.

To see the architectural firm‚??s report, visit www.times


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