Monday, April 08, 2002

Lakota school projects speed up

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP - When classes in the Lakota Schools end May 31, construction projects will speed up to make sure improvements are finished when students return after summer break.

        The work, which began last year, is part of a five-year capital improvement plan being paid for with proceeds from a combination levy voters approved in November 2000. The levy gave this growing district money for operations, improvements and two new schools.

        Favorable bids over the last 15 months have allowed the district to condense five years of work into three, accept alternate bids that include additional classrooms at the new schools, and to provide enough interest to pay for construction of an administration building not included in the original plan.

        “The economy right now is conducive to the projects we have available and contractors are bidding,” said Superintendent Kathleen Klink. “It's been a nice match between the type of work we have and available workers.”

        Last week the board awarded eight contracts totaling just over $8 million for construction of the district's eleventh elementary school. When combined with the contracts awarded earlier this year for the junior school, taxpayers will see a savings of $1.6 million when compared to the original cost estimates, said Doug Lantz, the district's business manager.

        Those savings are similar to those the district saw in May 2001, when bids for seven roofing projects came in almost $1 million under budget.

        Site work has already begun at the 85-acre Van Gorden property the district bought in December 2000. Located at the northwest corner of Lesourdsville-West Chester and Princeton roads in Liberty Town ship, the property will become home to both new schools and the administrative offices. .

        Once windows are replaced this summer at Union Elementary, Hopewell Junior and the Freshman School, most major improvement projects in the five-year plan will be finished, Mrs. Klink said. It also means that every classroom in the district will be air-conditioned by the end of the summer.

        “Our intent with the five-year capital improvement plan was to first look at our older schools and replace or repair roofs, replace windows, look at boilers, upgrade electric and address safety issues,” Mrs. Klink said. "We're ahead of schedule.”

        This summer, ceilings will be lowered at the two senior high schools so computer labs can be installed above the cafeterias, which are also being enlarged. Science and music classrooms will also be finished this summer.


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