Two factors were fundamental to the development of the Franklin Regional School District's facility planning. First, the Franklin Regional School District buildings are 50-90 years old and have experienced increased unplanned building maintenance problems in the last few years. These conditions necessitated that the Administration and School Board assess the FR building conditions to determine the most cost-effective facility plan for the next 20 years. Second, the Franklin Regional School District previously established a vision for building a world-class school system that provides students with 21st-century competencies. This vision is dependent on investments in essential technological tools and facilities to support student learning. Implementation for many of the improved educational initiatives has been limited by the current design of the FR educational spaces.
In 2016, the School Board commissioned the performance of a facility conditions analysis (called a Feasibility Study) by an independent structural and architectural engineering team. The Feasibility Study was completed in early 2017. The estimated cost of the ten-year maintenance/repair needs of the FR elementary buildings is $32 million.
In 2017, the Franklin Regional Administration and School Board thoroughly evaluated the results of the Feasibility Study and began to consider potential alternatives. Input was obtained from members of the community, parents, faculty, staff, and students in multiple Town Hall meetings, round-table discussions, and planning meetings. Many visits were made to school districts in the region that had recently complete similar initiatives to help determine the best path forward. The District and its representatives began to engage in pre-planning meetings with officials from the Municipality of Murrysville in the spring of 2017.
In September 2017, the Board of School Directors approved the plan to design a comprehensive elementary campus on the Sloan site to include renovation of the existing Sloan Elementary building to create a K-2 primary building and the construction of a new intermediate 3-5 building. The Administration and the School Board determined that this approach was most cost-effective considering the age and conditions of the existing FR elementary buildings and, equally important, would provide dramatically improved educational facilities for Franklin Regional elementary school students.
The Planning Commission Hearings began in the fall of 2017.
In June 2017 the Elementary Campus Project was given authorization by the Board of School Directors to proceed with the design and development phases of the project taking place from June 2017 to December 2018.
In the spring of 2018, Murrysville Planning Commission began reviewing the proposed building project to make sure the plans met their requirements. In August 2018, Murrysville Council conducted a hearing on proposed Sloan project. In October 2018, Murrysville Council voted to approve the plans elementary campus construction project.
In December 2018, the Board of School Directors and the District Solicitor were joined by the architects and construction manger at a required Act 34 Hearing. The hearing was conducted at Franklin Regional Senior High School.
In January 2019, the Board approved the advertising for construction bids for both the Sloan renovation and the construction of the new intermediate school. Bid openings occurred in the District offices in February 2019; however, after several meetings between the District, members of the Finance Committee, Solicitor, architects and construction manager, it was determined that the bids be rejected.
In March 2019, the Board and administration were unwavering in their resolve to both act in a fiscally responsible and meet long-term social, emotional, and learning needs of ALL students.
The results of the bids exceeded estimates provided by VEBH, the architectural firm during the Feasibility Study, and Massaro Construction Management, construction managers during the design phase of the project. The Administration and Finance Committee determined that after an extensive examination of the bid results and the bid documents, it was their recommendation to reject the current bids.
There were several factors that contributed to the increases in cost, including but not limited to…
- Long delays that were created by the permit approval processes at both the local and state level. (Each year, construction costs rise between 5 and 7%)
- Additional expensive and, in some cases, unwarranted conditions imposed upon the project by outside entities during the permitting processes
- Economic, labor, and, political conditions that added to the cost of all construction-related projects
As a result, in March 2019, the Board voted to reject all bids and allow the District to move forward to advertise for new bids. The district, together with the architects and construction manager, is in the process of modifying the design and further value engineering the project in a way that reduces cost while not sacrificing the educational vision, the needs of Franklin Regional students and staff, and the mechanical and structural integrity and viability of the FR facilities.
Additional details on all of the above items and copies of the relevant documents are provided in other locations of these FR Construction/Renovation web pages.