Schematic design phase

A portion of the schematic design phase of the proposed elementary school at the middle/high school site of the Southern Huntingdon County High School could be approved at the monthly board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 18.

Members of the Southern Huntingdon County School Board heard a presentation on the next phase of the elementary school project set to be on the agenda for approval at the monthly board meeting at the workshop session Wednesday evening.

Peter Ortiz of EI Associates, Harrisburg, said the next phase that will need approval is the schematic design phase, which is the part of the project where more details regarding how the elementary school will look will be approved.

“We’ve met with people in the district and we’ve whittled it down to the project that everyone wants,” he said. “This will authorize us to go onto the next phase, which is the design and development phase.”

In the schematic design phase, they’ve decided on the number of rooms, the approximate size of rooms, the number of support spaces and the layout of the site of the new elementary building on the middle/high school campus.

“We will also ask for a request for proposal for a geotechnical survey, where they will take drill rigs and drill to the core to determine what kinds of soils you have to determine the type of foundation you have,” added Ortiz. “This will help with preliminary mechanical and electrical systems as well as preliminary site investigation by working with other entities, like the (Orbisonia-Rockhill Joint Municipal Authority), Cromwell Township, the state Department of Environmental Protection, PennDOT, East Broad Top Railroad and the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance.”

Ortiz also mentioned that with the topographical surveys that have completed, they would also like for Reynolds to produce a detailed design development estimate.

“During this phase, we want you to have a good pulse of the costs,” he said. “So, if we can adjust the price we will. We want Reynolds to have a line-item estimate for detailed design and development.”

He noted the next phase after the schematic design development phase would be the completion of the design development phase, tentatively set for June. Construction documents are slated to be completed for approval in October 2020, and bidding would take place in November and December 2020, and the final award of bids would be approximately January 2021.

Rob Strickler of Reynolds noted they would next go through specific HVAC options and discuss adding capacity to the existing well if they expanded the holding tank and well as installing a sprinkler system for the entire elementary building.

Marc Karowski of K&W Designing Environments said this point, they will be dealing with regulatory agencies like DEP and PennDOT as well as municipal officials.

“For example, with PennDOT, any work in their right of way needs to have a Highway Occupancy Permit,” he said. “With the railroad, we’ll be doing research into the deed to see what we can and cannot do and to stay out of that as much as possible.”

They are proposed an additional driveway into the elementary school that will be specifically for buses and use the existing pathway to the high school for other vehicles.

Additionally, the elementary school will have a two-floor design using ramps, with the lower level for primary grades (K-2) and the higher level for secondary grades (3-5).

The gymnasium, locker rooms, administrative offices, nurses office and other areas would be separated from the classroom wing of the building, so if events take place, the public wouldn’t have access to classrooms if it wasn’t necessary.

Ortiz also noted the cost estimates, which would be $21,650,400 for construction costs and a total of $27,063,000 for a total project cost. The total project cost includes all of the soft costs.

The net savings the school district is projecting is around $922,624.

“Right now, we’ve spent around $300,000-$400,000 to date,” said superintendent Dwayne Northcraft. As we move forward, your ‘risk’ keeps going up, but we want to make it a point to know what your investment in this is to date.”

A full presentation of the proposed schematic design phase is available at the district’s website at

Kylie can be reached at


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