Jun. 13—After years of neglecting its buildings and being unable to afford repairs, the Scranton School District plans to invest $95 million through 2024.
Plans include a major renovation to West Scranton Intermediate School, repairs to heating and ventilation systems and upgrades to security. Federal COVID-19 funding will allow the district to borrow less money and help shorten the time frame for work.
District leaders, who received a feasibility study last year identifying $300 million in repairs and improvements needed, are optimistic of the progress made so far.
"Decades of neglect can't be fixed overnight," said school Director Ro Hume, chair of the board's operations committee. "Every step forward we take puts our kids in a warm, safe, dry environment. The better the environment, the research shows, the more learning can take place."
After receiving the feasibility study last year, the district completed high-priority projects, including the ventilation system at Northeast Intermediate School, and began the design and bidding process for 18 others.
School directors received an update on the capital improvement plan during a committee meeting last week, and numerous votes on the projects and borrowing will occur through the rest of the year. Through 2024, the $95 million worth of improvements include:
Full building renovations at West Intermediate, including temporary modular units, $33.9 million.
HVAC renovations at Neil Armstrong and Morris, $18 million.
Roof replacements at Robert Morris Elementary, West Scranton Intermediate and West Scranton High, $12 million.
HVAC renovations, fire sprinkler system and STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math and medicine) program upgrades at Scranton High, $5.4 million.
Bleacher repairs and lead abatement at Veterans Memorial Stadium, $3.5 million.
Exterior step replacement at McNichols Plaza, $334,000.
Exterior step replacement and roof deck repairs at South Scranton Intermediate, $266,000.
Bleacher and exterior door replacements at West Scranton High, $135,000.
Other districtwide projects include masonry repairs, paving improvements, security upgrades and environmental abatement.
The district originally planned $78.6 million in investments over six years, but now has both shortened the time frame and increased the spending.
Scranton received about $60 million in federal COVID-19 funds. The district will use about $22 million of the funding for building repairs. Coupled with a $3 million state grant, the district will reduce planned borrowing from $86.2 million to $60 million.
"It really does save you probably 25 years of not paying interest and principle on that amount of money, which would be significant," Chief Recovery Officer Candis Finan, Ed.D., told school directors last week. "We were able to do a lot more in a shorter period of time."
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