Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Mercury Ribbon-cutting Article

Below is the article published in the Pottstown Mercury online on 926/2018...

Ribbon-cutting set for new East Coventry Elementary School
Laura Catalano For Digital First Media
SOUTH COVENTRY — Owen J. Roberts School District officials will cut the ribbon on the new East Coventry Elementary School on Friday, Oct. 5, at 9:30 a.m., in a ceremony that will involve students carrying their school supplies into their new classrooms.
Classes will begin in the new school on Oct. 9, following a Columbus Day holiday for district students and an in-service day for teachers. East Coventry teachers will dedicate their in-service day to setting up their new classrooms.
The new facility is located on the same lot as the old building, so students will be permitted to visit their new classrooms and move in their personal supplies on Oct. 5.
“This will be the day that the students breathe life into this school,” said board President Melissa Booth at a regular school board meeting Monday. “We’re very proud about this, and very excited about this opportunity for our students.”
The board also approved an address change for the East Coventry Elementary School from 932 Sanatoga Road to 2461 East Cedarville Road. While both buildings are located on the same property, the old school was accessed off Sanatoga Road, and the entrance to the new facility is off East Cedarville Road.
When officials finally snip the ribbon in front of the new building, they will put an end to a $28 million construction project that has spanned half a decade and been beset by delays almost from the start.
The building was approved in November 2014, one of two elementary schools that the board had voted to rebuild on their existing lots. At that time, plans called for East Vincent and East Coventry elementary school projects to be constructed simultaneously. Both projects were expected to be completed by 2017.
While the East Vincent school remained on schedule, the East Coventry building quickly hit its first roadblock when the property failed a percolation test in 2015 and the board was forced to revamp a proposed stormwater management plan.
In addition to that, the school board also faced a number of unforeseen land development requirements from East Coventry Township, including a mandate to build trails and widen a section of East Cedarville Road. As a result, the project did not go out to bid until August 2016, and construction didn’t get underway until February 2017.
Once construction began, the board gave contractors an aggressive timeline, in order to have the school finished by opening day of the 2018-19 school year. However, in August, Superintendent Susan Lloyd announced that a number of items in the new building had not been completed and would not be ready for the start of school.
Those items included installation of fire and burglar alarms, completion of the media classroom and library, and the installation of the gym floors.
Booth said those issues have now all been addressed. But she noted that the site will continue to need work.
“It’s a rough site. The grass hasn’t grown, and the punch list items will be ongoing, but I’m excited to see little children moving into the building,” Booth said.
Among the items still to be completed are two all-purpose fields outside the building. The fields were taken out of the original plan as a cost saving measure, but they have since been added back in and will be constructed this year.
Coventry Little League Board Member Robert Brobst asked the board to consider building a baseball field instead of an all-purpose field on the site. Brobst told the board that up to 450 Owen J. Roberts students play on Little League teams each year, and the league is often short of fields.
However, district Chief Financial Officer Jaclin Krumrine said the multi-purpose fields would be built as planned. The district is conducting a feasibility study that will look at all district facilities, including fields, and help determine what is needed.
That study, being conducted by Marotta Main Architects, who designed East Coventry and East Vincent Elementary Schools, will also determine what will be done with the old East Coventry building.
“It won’t be torn down,” Booth said.
The new elementary school was constructed to alleviate overcrowding and create equity among all district elementary buildings. It has air conditioning and a capacity for 650 students, about 100 more than the old facility.
Despite delays that have created headaches for the board throughout construction, the new East Coventry Elementary School has remained under budget, Krumrine said. And, because the district paid for the $28 million project with money saved in its capital projects fund, construction costs have not significantly impacted taxpayers, she said.

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