Education board delays deciding fate of East Carbon High structure
The fate of the old East Carbon High School building remains undecided, based on a discussion at the Carbon County Board of Education meeting on March 8.
Last summer, the district initially decided after surveying the recently closed school that much of it could not be remodeled into an elementary school without high costs.
At that point, the board instructed district officials to begin plans to construct a new state-of the-art building on the East Carbon High grounds to replace Petersen Elementary. Petersen was built in 1954.
It was decided that, even though construction money had been put into the old elementary to stabilize the foundation along with other improvements, the building should be replaced.
During the same discussions, it became apparent that the high school's gymnasium needed to remain intact as a free standing building or other provisions needed to be made.
During the planning of the new building, it appeared that the district would take down most of the old high school and leave the gym and lunch room intact, with some remodeling.
But in the last several months, it appears that the initial plan may not work because of problems with the old building.
The discussion at the board meeting on Wednesday centered around what could be done to have a complete facility for public and school use. With the changes, the cost of a new school could go up considerably.
"The kind of addition that would need to be built with the new school would be a recreational type of area," said superintendent David Armstrong. "Of course, the cost would be higher to do that and, because of its proposed use, Carbon Recreation is going to approach the Permanent Community Impact Board, with the support of the district, for at least some of the funds for this facility."
But the talk around the board room was about what could be done if funds for the added brick and mortar did not come from an outside source. If the district has to build the facility without assistance, the cost for the school could exceed $4 million.
"A good target to look at is between $4 and $4.3 million," said board member Grady McEvoy. "If we can get it to that amount, then we can know what we need to do. I just don't think we can go above that."
McEvoy said the plan to remodel the old gym is still on the table, but the cost may be too high to make it economical.
"Maybe the first step is to decide on how much to demolish at the high school site," he said.
But board member Barry Deeter was concerned about doing that.
"What if we tear it down and then realize the costs to build new are too high?" he asked.
Some discussion ensued about what could be done to lower costs on the new building if the multipurpose area had to be added. Some suggestions include making the classrooms a little smaller, taking out some of the rest rooms and lowering the ceiling height in the school. Board member Debbie Blackburn also suggested that the money that was going to be spent on the present Peterson building for some renovations could be used toward the new facility.
The board decided to table any action to go ahead with demolition until the sources of funding for the additional construction on the elementary school could be firmed up.
In other business, former school board member Walt Borla presented a letter to the present members concerning Helper Junior High School and also addressed the board as well.
"Last year during the meetings concerning school closures I pointed out that we should not be looking at closing Helper Junior High but should be working to find a means to increase enrollment numbers," Borla said as he addressed the board. "I think we could do that by informing parents and students that live in Price about some of the advantages to attending that school."
Borla went on to suggest that students might be at an advantage by going to Helper because of smaller class sizes, enhanced chances to participate in extra curricular activities because of fewer numbers of students and more chances to be on athletic teams.
In his letter he also pointed out that the district could make some boundary changes which could send more students to the school from within the attendance area of Mont Harmon Junior High. He pointed out that transportation would be available because buses already leave the bus garage in Price twice a day to serve students in the Helper boundaries right now and it would only be a matter of routing to pick up students who lived in the Price area who wished to go to school in Helper.
Borla also presented the board with a check for $1500 which was sent to him by representative Patrick Painter, the state representative to the legislature from district 67 which encompasses all of Carbon County west of Price.
This was the second check that Painter has sent to Borla to give to the school district to be used for educational purposes.