JACKSON TWP — In an 8-1 vote, the Seneca Valley School Board approved moving the Evans City School to the Ehrman Road site in Cranberry and Jackson townships.
Kathy Whittle was the only dissenting vote. Every board member was in attendance at Monday night's meeting.
Mike Corb, CannonDesign's lead architect on the Evans City School project, presented a geotechnical report of the suggested construction sites before the vote and said Evans City had different bearing capacities which would require deeper foundations at a higher cost than that of the Ehrman Road property.
Corb estimated it would be a price difference of two or three times the cost of putting a foundation on the Ehrman site.
The board also brought in Jim Pearson, district transportation director, to present information about busing students when the school site is changed.
The biggest issue Pearson said he would address was that of Pattison Street Extension as it was a hot point of discussion brought up by Evans City residents worried about the narrow road.
Pearson said Pattison Street Extension is already used to get middle and elementary school students in Jackson, Cranberry and other townships to Evans City.
“We are already traveling those roads,” he said.
Pattison Street Extension has a 10-ton weight limit, which was brought up as a safety concern in previous meetings, but Pearson said school buses, which weigh about 30,000 pounds fully loaded, are exempt from that limit along with emergency vehicles.
Pearson said Evans City has 56 students who walk and would therefore need a bus to transport them to a school on Ehrman Road, though there are already many other students being bused into Evans City.
“Safety has always been and always will be our guide,” Pearson said. “Safety comes before the schedule.”
As in the previous board meetings at which Evans City was a main topic, those who will be affected by the board's decision took time to discuss the problems they see with Evans City losing its school.
Evans City Mayor Dean Zinkhann, who spoke at the board's Aug. 13 and Sept. 4 meetings as well, brought back into discussion his thoughts about buses “kissing” if they were to pass each other on Pattison Street Extension.
Other speakers agreed that their main issues were with the town losing a piece of itself if the school were gone.
“There are many norms in the community which will be disrupted and broken,” Melvin Muslin said. “It is our perception, simply put, it would not be fair.”
Last Tuesday's school board meeting resulted in an emotional night for many Evans City residents who attended to speak against moving the school away from their town.
A few emotional pleas made were regarding the foundation of the town being rooted in a school, and one mother even ended her passionate commentary in tears.
Many issues citizens raised were related to the cost of the project or the project's effects on their own property values and taxes, but transportation safety also was mentioned as an issue.
Last week, Corb spoke in detail about the potential plans the firm has for the school and estimated that the cost difference between building on Ehrman Road would be about $5 million with overall cost variation related to numbers of students and space actually used for construction.
Other differences Corb discussed were the additional space for playgrounds and fields at Ehrman Road and a possible two-story versus three-story building.