Members of the Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center’s (EWCTC) Joint Operating Committee (JOC) took another step towards a significant renovation project on the aging building.

Members of the JOC, during Wednesday’s regular meeting, approved the school’s administrative director and business manager to develop a plan for funding the EWCTC building renovation project and to report the plan back to the JOC.

The JOC gave authorization to make inquiry of and provide information to advisors, including, but not limited to underwriters, bond counsel and financial advisors.

“In order to have a firm idea of what the cost associated with the project over the course of a number of years that it would be financed, we have to engage with some third parties,” EWCTC administrative director Todd Weimer said. “These are individuals that are needed to move forward.”

Last month, members of Greater Latrobe, Derry Area and Ligonier Valley — known collectively as the Joint Area Board (JAB) — heard results from a comprehensive feasibility study conducted by Pittsburgh-based HHSDR Architects/Engineers.

Weimer last month outlined a two-priority plan for building a mechanical renovations, ranging from $4.3 million to $5.8 million. He estimated priority one items at $1.8 million to $2.7 million and all priority two items at $2.4 million to $3 million.

Weimer previously said there is an option to complete high priority items immediately and potentially wait another year if the JOC and JAB doesn’t want to take on the entire $4.3 million to $5.8 million price tag.

“When I presented to the (JAB), I categorized as priority one and priority two, but I prefaced it with the fact that I’m presenting it, identifies it as a real need,” Weimer said. “My intent would be to present a project that includes all of the priorities, everything that was discussed, and then we would prioritize those things.”

The priority one building renovations, presented last month, ranged from $1.6 million to $2.4 million, while priority one mechanical renovations came in between $235,000 and $300,000. Priority two building renovations ranged between $1.5 million and $1.9 million, while priority two mechanical systems were $945,000 to $1.1 million.

Weimer said the school is working with business members of all three sending schools — Greater Latrobe, Derry Area and Ligonier Valley — in addition to the EWCTC business manager and the three district superintendents.

“This will allow us to engage in conversation for the purposes of getting an idea in number value of what it’s going to cost over the course of the number of years that it would be financed for,” Weimer said. “So then, we can approve a project at the JOC level and push it out to the school districts because their vote, their approval is what’s needed for a capital project of this magnitude.”

The 100,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1976, a new roof was installed in 2004 and in December 2015, the school underwent a $685,000 HVAC renovation project. HHSDR analyzed all aspects of construction in the feasibility study, including electrical and mechanical systems, the shell of the building and parking lots among other areas. The firm also took into consideration the school’s programming and potential future courses, while studying shop size, internal structure and layout of the building, which houses 499 students from Derry Area, Greater Latrobe and Ligonier Valley.

Weimer said that there are no costs associated with the motion approved on Wednesday. And that all fees associated with bond counsel, an underwriter, financial advisor and more will come as the project is approved and completed.

Last month, Weimer said that he talked with district business managers and noted that a bond issuance could be the best option to pay for the project.

Based on market value, Weimer estimated last month that Greater Latrobe would pay for 50% of the project, while Ligonier Valley accounts for 30% and 20% for Derry Area. Greater Latrobe, last May, approved a transfer of $400,000 — money from the sale of the old Latrobe Elementary School — that could be used for any district-wide capital projects, including renovations at EWCTC.

Weimer said the intent is to bring a project to the JOC next month as part of the school’s initial budget presentation. With their approval, that project would be included in the EWCTC budget.

“We prepare our budget and get it out to the districts in a manner that allowed them to have those figures prior to doing their own budget, because they need to know what (EWCTC) is going to cost as they develop their budget,” Weimer said. “Come March, when we generally get JOC approval for our budget, (sending schools) would be approving a budget that includes the project. At that point, we would be moving forward.”

Weimer said the EWCTC budget is effective July 1, meaning a project could begin in 2020.

“If we are approving the project now, and approving a budget that would include the project, we would be making our best effort to start the project as soon as this summer,” Weimer said. “The biggest thing you want to take into consideration is doing the project in a way that provides minimal disruption to the learning environment.”

Also on Wednesday, the JOC recognized Ligonier Valley senior Courtney McKlveen as the student of the month for January. McKlveen is enrolled in the school’s Health Occupations Technology program, the current program club president and a member of the National Technical Honor Society.

“Courtney is extremely motivated to excel in any endeavor that she undertakes,” instructor Lindsay Smetak said. “She’s a leader in the classroom and is always willing to take on additional responsibilities to enhance her learning as well as those of her fellow students.”

McKlveen, a three-year letterwinner for the Ligonier Valley girls’ softball team, is employed at Bethlen Home as a certified nursing assistant. She’ll also be employed as a cooperative education student at Life’s Promise Personal Care Home later this month. Her long-term plans include attending Penn State-Fayette and studying to become a nurse practitioner.

“She’s a wonderful example of hard work paying off,” Smetak said. “She’s a hard worker in the classroom, on the job and on the softball field. She will be a staunch patient advocate, having worked her way up the nursing career ladder, as well as a huge asset to the healthcare community as a whole.”

The JOC also approved:

  • Occupational and local advisory committees;
  • Rescind the motion on Sept. 25 to purchase a new maintenance dump truck with snow plow package through Kenny Ross and re-award the purchase through Tri-Star Costars at a cost of $45,924;
  • An annual motion authorizing Weimer to study realignment of staff and curtailment of programs, and to prepare recommendations for the JOC in accordance with the public school code of 1949;
  • Natural gas agreement for the basis price, as well as 30% of the commodity, as recommended by the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit gas consortium with Direct Energy Business Marketing, LLC for Sept. 1, through Aug. 31, 2023;
  • Derek Fritzel, culinary instructor and five students to attend the Prostart competition at Penn State University Feb. 25-26 at an approximate cost of $650 to be paid for by student activity account.

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