On Tuesday night, the Mechanicsburg Area School Board unanimously approved new attendance areas for the 2018-19 school year that will affect students in the elementary grades.
During the next five years, the district plans to expand or renovate all of its buildings to accommodate increasing enrollment and changing educational and activity needs. In August, the school board agreed for architects to prepare advertisements for contractor bids for converting Elmwood Elementary School into a district center for grades four and five. The district’s offices on Elmwood’s second floor would be converted into 15 classrooms.
The district has no plans to change the configuration of the Kindergarten Academy, but renovation work and the addition of a classroom wing to accommodate growing enrollment is expected to begin next year. The second floor of the new wing will serve as the new location of the district’s administration offices.
The district’s remaining elementary schools — Broad Street, Northside, Shepardstown and Upper Allen — will switch from their current configurations of grades 1-5 to accommodate grades 1-3 for the 2018-19 school year.
A proposed map of the new attendance zones was presented to the school board in August and put on the district’s website for review. District officials said they devised the proposed zones using criteria of student impact, equity and enrollment.
Assistant Superintendent Alan Vandrew said officials have received “a little bit of feedback” about the new attendance lines over the past several weeks, but, “They seem to be OK with it.”
In a related matter, the school board unanimously ratified a three-year lease with Allen Distribution on South Market Street for a 15,000-square-foot area for $18,793 per month. The rental area will serve as a temporary location for the district’s administration offices in from when renovation work begins at the Elmwood building and new office space is completed at the Kindergarten Academy.
Vandrew said district officials plan to review contractor bids for the Elmwood project this month, with renovations expected to begin in February. School board meetings after that point will no longer take place at the Elmwood building, most likely moving to the middle school or the district’s Environmental Center.
Also on Tuesday, the school board approved replacement of the middle school’s auditorium stage lighting system by Sage Technology Solutions for $88,958.64. The board also accepted a bid to replace the middle school’s auditorium sound system by Sage Technology Solutions for $46,136.12. The 16-year-old systems are original to the building, Vandrew said.
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What is the status of the widening project on Interstate 81?
Anyone who has traveled on Interstate 81 between Silver Spring Township and Hampden Township during the last year likely noticed a great deal of work being done on the highway.
In September 2016, crews began a widening project on both sides of the highway from exit 57 in Silver Spring Township to exit 59 in Hampden Township.
The project to widen the highway involves extending on-ramps to span between the exits to create three lanes in both northbound and southbound directions. It is expected to cost $19.5 million, according to PennDOT.
Work is expected to be completed by May.
As the winter months roll in and temperatures fall, work along the highway will slow and likely come to a temporarily halt until March, PennDOT said in a written statement.
On Sunday, workers began work including line painting along the highway that has resulted in daily lane closures.
Single-lane traffic is expected between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. daily for the rest of the week to allow this work to be completed, according to PennDOT.
“The contractor will start with the northbound traffic switch by first removing the barrier, milling a taper in the asphalt between the exiting interstate and the new widening ... and then eradicating the existing traffic lines and painting new lines,” PennDOT wrote in a news release. “Traffic will then be opened for the first time to its final configuration of three lanes in each direction.”
PennDOT said sporadic single-lane closures will still occur in both directions through the end of November and into December.
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The borough of Mount Holly Springs is hoping a different approach to buying a municipal dump truck could yield a savings in costs and turn-around time.
The council on Monday authorized Borough Manager Tom Day to seek out a leftover 2017 truck from either a regular dealership or a dealership that works through the COSTARS cooperative purchasing program.
Day suggested the council set an upper limit of $80,000, using $55,000 drawn from the general fund budget and $25,000 available for equipment purchases in the borough’s liquid fuels account.
The plan is to use the $80,000 to approach dealerships in the hope of buying a replacement vehicle for a worn-out model 2000 dump truck that has developed serious maintenance problems, Day said. He said the truck bed is rusted out and its transmission system had to be replaced three times in recent years.
Day is concerned about the ability of this truck to weather another winter of plowing and clearing snow. He said that in the past the borough has purchased dump trucks from companies that build them specifically for municipalities. However, that option would likely cost the borough $90,000 or more and take at least four to five months in turn-around time.
Council President James Collins II said the $80,000 would include not just a truck chassis, but the finished package of a truck, snowplow and a salt spreader.
“I’m sure that one is going to be out already built and ready to go,” Day said. By his estimates, there are more than 400 trucks within a 200-mile radius of the borough that could provide what the borough needs.