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Board Considers Options for Middle School Project

After reviewing a report by Thomas & Williamson: Program Management identifying more than $16 million in needed repairs to Mars Area Middle School’s HVAC system, plumbing, roof and other infrastructure, Mars Area School Board is now considering its options for a future construction project at the school.

Mars Area Middle School, originally constructed in 1969, underwent renovations in both 1995 and 2001, said Matthew Hansen of IKM Architects, who, earlier this week, presented Board members with two options for a proposed project at the school earlier this week.

The first option would include repairs to the building exterior, an updated HVAC system, and modernized academic spaces within the building, said Hansen. To bring in more natural light, three existing classrooms on opposite sides of the building would be converted into open “learning commons.”

As renovations would take place when school is in session, the project would require a phased construction schedule and students would need to be moved to temporary accommodations while the work is completed. The expected cost of the first option would be $12 to $14 million.

The second option would include the construction of a new, three-story classroom tower, which would be located in the parking area immediately adjacent to the building’s current main entrance.

As the initial work would occur away from the existing building, any disruption to students would be minimal, said Hansen. Once the tower is completed, students would move into the new space and the southern end of the current school would be demolished; the building’s exterior would be updated; and a new, secure main entrance would be relocated to face Route 228.

The overall project would modernize all academic spaces within the school and would increase the building’s overall capacity, said Hansen. With the new construction and an updated HVAC system, the school would also be more energy efficient. 

In addition, as part of the project, school bus and other traffic patterns would be redrawn to reduce congestion. And, the school’s parking areas would be relocated and expanded within the current site; however, parking would no longer be available near the District’s athletics fields.

The cost of the second option would be approximately $20 to $22 million with the option of adding on a 1,700-seat, varsity-sized gymnasium on the southern end of the building for an additional $3 million. 

Mars Area School Board is expected to vote on the direction of the proposed project within the next few months. If the Board agrees to move forward with the project, construction would begin in October 2019.

For more information, call (724) 625-1518.