Columbia school board committee discusses pros, cons of elementary school reconfiguration

Columbia Borough School District office building (K. Scott Kreider / Correspondent)

When: Columbia Borough School District board meeting, Sept. 7.

What happened: Columbia Borough School District has installed new variable-frequency drives, heat valves and actuators in Park Elementary and Taylor Middle schools’ boiler rooms at a total cost of $38,860. The cost was down 51.42%, or $41,140, from initial estimates.

Background: Earlier this year, the school board voted to complete more than $6 million in mechanical, HVAC and electrical upgrades at its elementary, middle and high schools, plus its administrative offices, through the 2025-26 school year. To conclude the slate of capital improvements scheduled for the current year, the district will spend roughly $565,000 to install a new HVAC control system inside its field house.

Finances: Keith Ramsey, the district’s chief of finance and operations, previously said an estimated $4.04 million in federal aid from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief grants and $1.72 million in capital reserve funds will be earmarked for capital expenses over the next five years. Despite a potential 3% annual inflation in costs, Ramsey predicts these improvements can be financed without raising taxes.

What’s next: School officials anticipate field house construction to start in either October or November.

Livestreams: The school board will explore options to upload its meetings onto the district’s website or YouTube channel, as well as potentially develop a video archive, to expand public access and retain records of each session in a video format. The administration will consult with its district solicitor and secretaries from other school districts to develop and present a tentative retention schedule next month.

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