The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


September 7, 2012

Danville forced to abandon its middle school

DANVILLE – School district officials announced they are abandoning the current site of the Danville Middle School due to costs associated with meeting borough zoning codes.

At the borough council’s Sept. 4 meeting, they unanimously voted to deny a request by the district to issue a variance for the site of the Danville Middle School along Route 11. The district wanted a variance to make the school property a wet floodproofing zone as opposed to dry floodproofing, which is much more costly to the district, according to school board president Allan Schappert.

The council denied the variance because they said it would jeopardize flood insurance for residents and possible grant money.

With the variance gone, it is now “not financially feasible nor fiscally responsible” to pursue reconstruction of the middle school at its current site, said Schappert. He estimated that making the property qualify for dry floodproofing would increase the cost of the project by about $24 million to $26 million.

“The lights are pretty much out” on there ever being another school at that property, said Schappert, unless the borough changes its mind on the variance.

The district had planned to repair the middle school, ravaged by last September’s flooding, in time for the start of the 2012-2013 school year. However, now, “with absolute certainty, the middle school will not be open in time for next year,” said Schappert.

The middle school’s 550 students will almost certainly continue being taught in their current classes within the district, the sixth-graders at the Danville Primary School and the seventh and eighth-graders at the converted Danville Elementary School. That set-up, which was originally meant to be temporary, will now take on a longer life, said Schappert.

This does give the district a chance for “a new building at a far better site,” said Schappert. The district still has the property for the former Riverside Elementary School in its possession and may also look at the grounds of Cherokee Golf Course, which announced earlier this week that it would close at the end of this year, he said.

Schappert has asked district administrators and financial advisors to provide additional information to board members at their next meeting, which will be held Sept. 11, at 7 p.m., in the Danville High School.


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