New Castle News

Schools

November 6, 2012

Lockley Controversy: Razzano changes position, board to proceed with project

NEW CASTLE — A straw vote last night was unanimous for the New Castle school board to proceed with the Lockley school project.

The turnaround came after board members heard an explanation from financial experts Thursday that if the district does not undertake the consolidation project of its four elementary schools into one, it would be required to pay about $8 million to terminate bonds obtained to fund the project. It also would lose $1.5 million already paid in costs toward the project.

At a heated special meeting on Oct. 25, the board voted to reject the most recent bids by a 5-4 vote.

The board now is considering choosing the least expensive of three options presented by Eckles Architecture.

That choice, which will total $19,023,733 in construction costs, represents the base bids of all of the contractors collectively, plus it has all of the more expensive alternative bids subtracted out of it.

Estimated soft costs will total another $3,689,739.

The board’s vote Oct. 25 rejected the bids based on the most expensive proposal recommended by the administration. That option totaled $19,215,283 in construction costs and $3,706,979 in soft costs.

The soft costs include furniture, architect, engineer and legal fees, and a contingency fund of 3 percent or about $77,000 reserved for any unforeseen costs.

At a special public work session last night, John G. Hays of Thomas and Williamson, the district’s Pittsburgh-based construction manager, assured the board that he and the architects will constantly be looking at ways to save the district money.

Board member Dr. Marilyn Berkely asked if they will be willing to sign off on the work.

Hays said each contract is certified by the architect and the construction manager monthly. He said they would provide monthly project totals at the board meetings, along with a running total.

After district business manager Joe Ambrosini explained the financing one more time, Joseph asked for a consensus on how the board would vote a second time on the bids.

“Based on the additional information, I will say ‘Yes,’” said board member David DiGiammarino, who had previously voted against the project.

Berkely and Barbara Razzano, who both opposed the project from the start, also relented. At first, Razzano hesitated, then said, “reluctantly, yes.”

“This will help you win the election, Barb, I think you should do it,” Joseph said, goading her.

After the poll, he commented, “9-0. That’s what it should have been in the first place.”

“I’ve been against this entire building idea,” Razzano commented after the meeting. “Now because of some creative financial move ... I had never heard of anything said before about a penalty. I can’t let the taxpayers down with more than a $10 million penalty. Now I’m stuck in voting for something I’ve been against from the beginning.”

The board has 60 days from the bid opening — until Dec. 8 — to award bids or reject the project.

David Esposito of Eckles invited all of the board members to a meeting with the administrators at 9 a.m. Thursday “to go over last week’s events of what’s happened.”

The board plans to formally vote on the lowest option at its regular school board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

 Meanwhile, the topic is likely to come up again at its regular public work session at 6 p.m. Monday.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Schools
  • Yauger.jpg Yauger’s Mercer County trial on hold

    A pending criminal trial for the former Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV executive director has been continued again in Mercer County.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yauger.jpg Yauger now facing federal charge

    With Mercer County court proceedings pending this week, Cecelia Yauger faces federal prosecution for alleged business credit card misuse.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg New Castle board adopts budget despite uncertainty

    The New Castle school board adopted its 2014-15 budget Monday but may have to re-open it next week. The $5.4 million budget, introduced in May, has no tax increase and will not tap into the fund balance. Taxes remain at 17.72 mills.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todora.jpg Board, staff bids farewell to superintendent

    Dr. Mary Todora will retire Monday from the Neshannock school district. “I remember eight and a half years ago when Dr. John Dietz (then-board president) called to tell me I got the job. I was thrilled,” Todora said at her final board meeting.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rich.jpg Vo-tech administrators get bonuses, no raises

    Lawrence County Career and Technical Center administrators will get one-time bonuses instead of raises next year. The joint operating committee approved one-year agreements that would freeze the salaries of director Leonard A. Rich and the principal, head custodian, cafeteria supervisor and computer technician.

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • FrankAloi.jpg Frank Aloi: 50 years of school spirit in Ellwood City

    Frank Aloi is a true Wolverine. Aloi, who turned 73 Friday, spent the past half-century affiliated with the Ellwood City school district and its sports teams.

    June 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • FrankAloi.JPG Frank Aloi Retiring: Ellwood superintendent leaving amid budget woes

    Frank Aloi is retiring next month as Ellwood City’s superintendent of schools. Aloi, a 50-year district employee and its superintendent for nearly 12, submitted his retirement notice to the board during an executive session prior to Thursday’s meeting. His last day is July 16.

    June 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg District mulls building sale options

    The New Castle school district is considering selling its three recently closed buildings through a sealed bid process.

    June 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Perfect.jpg Your Education: Shenango grad never missed a day

    They say nobody’s perfect. But for 13 years, Jenna DiGiammarino certainly was. When Jenna left last night’s commencement ceremonies at Shenango High School, she did so not only with a diploma in hand, but also with a flawless record of attendance dating back to Day One of kindergarten.

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • 03.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Three New Castle schools close today for good

    Today is bittersweet for New Castle Area School District elementary students and teachers. Three buildings packed with history as longtime learning institutions are closing their doors for good.
     

    June 5, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Poll

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to authorize Speaker John Boehner to sue President Obama for allegedly overstepping his legal authority with the way he's handled Obamacare. Good call?

Yes. Obama's been overstepping his authority since day one in office. It's time he pay the piper.
No. The allegations are ridiculous and the law suit is a waste of time and tax payer money.
I don't know. I'm not a huge fan of Obama, but the suit seems a little extreme.
     View Results