The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Northumberland County

March 11, 2014

Warrior Run hears from 3 architectural firms

— TURBOTVILLE — A handful of residents turned out to a Tuesday session dedicated to finding an architectural firm to conduct a feasibility study in the Warrior Run School District.

About 10 members of the public joined school officials at the meeting, where three firms vied for the chance to work with the district: MM Architects, of Lancaster; Hayes Large, of Altoona; and the Architectural Studio, of Allentown.

School directors said the feasibility study will “help us develop options for the future, review our current facilities and assign costs for each of the options,” according to a handout distributed during the meeting. Residents in attendance could provide written feedback for each firm on the sheet.

The board hopes to select a firm in the next several weeks, Superintendent John Kurelja said. The school board was clear that the firm was being selected only for a feasibility study, not a construction project.

MM, which upgraded Mount Carmel’s athletic complex in 2010, emphasized its personal touch and organized, systematic approach, noting a partner of the firm would attend each meeting on any project.

“You’ll see us at the first meeting and at the last meeting,” said Maryann Marotta, a principal in the firm.

The firm’s project budgets have ranged from $5,000 to $55 million, for a total of more than $260 million in projects since 2001, Marotta said.

Hayes Large, which facilitated the consolidation of the Mifflinburg Area School District’s elementary schools, has done more than 4,000 school renovations since its founding in 1922 and 72 feasibility projects since 2000, said Dwight Knouse, executive partner of the firm.

The firm’s presentation focused on meeting the needs of the community and outlined a plan that included six community meetings.

“That’s a suggestion, a starting point,” Knouse said. “We can tailor this to meet the needs of the administration or community.”

The Architectural Studio has about 20 staff members, and school work makes up 75 percent to 80 percent of the firm’s work, principal Curt Santee said.

The firm is working with the Central Columbia School District to do upgrades to the district’s high school.

The Architectural Studio’s presentation focused on helping the district visualize options. The firm also emphasized its experience.

“(Our employees) have seen a lot of trends,” Santee said. “We’re not a young firm.”

Warrior Run is facing a crossroads as a district, with declining enrollment and aging facilities.

At their Feb. 17 board meeting, Warrior Run directors rejected a consolidation plan that would have created a primary center in one of its two elementary schools and house third- through fifth-graders in the other.

While the proposal would have saved money, support “wasn’t there,” board President Todd Moser said.

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