Cranberry board OKs upgrade of elementary grounds

The Cranberry Area School Board voted Monday to go ahead with a major reconstruction project of the grounds at the district’s elementary school.

The work comes on the heels of work last year that included parking lot upgrades and roof repairs.

J. Greer Hayden, of HHSDR architects and engineers of Sharon, presented a breakdown of the project and estimated costs.

Noting the board decided at an earlier meeting that it “wanted to prioritize improvements,” Hayden offered two phases of work.

The first would be paving, curbing, sidewalks, drainage repairs, handicapped accessible entranceways and parking changes. The focus would be on the area around Cranberry Area Elementary School.

The second phase would be extensive refurbishment of all of Education Drive from the highway to the school complex.

That work would include additional parking areas, hillside seepage remediation, improved accessiblity from the road to the athletic fields and more.

Combined, the projects would cost an estimated $2,051,711.

The board opted to pursue the first phase at a cost of $697,000. A decision as to the second phase will be made at a later date.

Construction bids could be awarded in April with the work to start the following month, said Hayden.

Funds for the project are in hand, said Henry Karg, business manager. The district enacted a tax hike two years ago to cover anticipated capital improvements. There is about $1.3 million “committed in the budget” for the site improvements, he said.

Chad Findlay, a new board member, suggested the consulting firm could explore grant money that may be available for removing architectural barriers or addressing environmental issues such as drainage.

In other business:

– The board accepted the resignation of Tammy LaRoche as a part-time cafeteria worker at the elementary school.

– Christopher Bost was hired as a lighting advisor for the school musical.

– The board approved tenure for teacher Debra Matthews.

– Brooke Blake and Tori Burkhart were hired as child specific care aides. Although both were approved at an earlier meeting, their effective start dates and hiring rates were amended at Monday’s meeting.