North Star board explores middle school options

·2 min read

Oct. 13—BOSWELL, Pa. — The North Star School Board decided at Tuesday's meeting that a special assembly will be scheduled in the spring to decide the fate of the North Star Middle School once and for all.

Conversation about the building wasn't on the agenda, but buildings and grounds supervisor Terry Ohler broached the topic during his section of the gathering.

"I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't come to you guys and say, 'Hey, look, this is where we're at with this,' " Ohler said.

His concerns lie with the cost of heating the old structure, which dates back to 1955, with propane, a leaking roof he's had to fix four times this year alone and the cast-iron plumbing.

He also brought up issues with exterior brick work and warned that if something were to go wrong there, it could be extremely costly to repair.

The last time the middle school, located in Stoystown, was renovated was in 2000.

"I'm kind of trying to impress and impose upon all of you board members to focus and remember what we've talked about previously," Ohler said. "We kind of need to keep that urgency about us."

North Star had a feasibility study on the middle school completed by Mechanicsburg architectural firm Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates roughly three years ago.

Louis Lepley, district superintendent, said the choices that agency provided were to completely renovate the building for about $24 million or close it and build on to the elementary school for around $28 million.

The second option would centralize the district in Boswell.

Discussion on how to proceed was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Board member Colleen DeLuca asked for an update during Tuesday's meeting after hearing from Ohler.

Lepley told her there's no way to complete either option without a millage increase.

Business manager Brandon Studer agreed, adding that the district wouldn't get the financing to do any work with the current rate of 34.70 mills.

"We know it's coming," he said. "We know we have to do it."

Studer is the one who advised the members to bring the topic up again in 2022 during budget season.

DeLuca said the bottom line is that the board has to decide what to do soon.

"We've got to get it moving again," president Marty Blough said.

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