The South Eastern school board will vote later this month whether to proceed on three elementary building projects the superintendent said can be done without the need to raise taxes.

EI Associates gave a presentation at last week's meeting[ash: jan10: ] about updating Delta-Peach Bottom, Stewartstown and Fawn Area elementaries.

South Eastern officials hope to get about half of the $19.9 million project reimbursed by the state if they proceed.

Superintendent Rona Kaufmann said the projects would involve upgrading the infrastructure, making the schools meet handicapped- accessibility codes, and modernizing the classrooms.

An initial idea to close the schools and create one centralized elementary has since been ditched.

The timetable: The board will need to decide Thursday, Jan. 24, whether to take the next step in the process, which would involve, in part, seeing if the school grounds would be able to handle geothermal energy, which uses the ground temperature to help regulate the building temperature.

All the schools would pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, which means they'd be extremely environmentally friendly and would reduce utility costs.

Kaufmann said the district's strong bond rating means they could borrow the money without impacting the mill rate. Still, she said, the difficult economy means that any decision to spend money like this is scrutinized.


Security upgrades: Along with infrastructure and environmental upgrades, the schools would get new security features.

That includes a vestibule area that funnels visitors into the office, rather than allowing them to enter the school lobby and then go into the office on their own. Additional cameras would be purchased, too.

If approved, the renovations will begin in December 2013 and will be complete in June 2015. The next school board meeting is Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m.

- Staff correspondent Shannon Prusak contributed to this story. Reach Andrew Shaw at