North Penn resumes talks with high school financial advisor

LANSDALE — As district administrators continue to plan for the future of North Penn High School, a familiar name has re-entered the picture.

District officials provided an update on the ongoing high school master plan process Monday evening and further discussions with a consultant that may soon be a key factor.

“PFM is part of the group we used to do the financial modeling. We will work with them as time has passed since the initial modeling was done with them,” said District Superintendent Curt Dietrich.

“We now have updated information on Act 1, we have updated information regarding interest rates, and we have updated information regarding borrowing deadlines,” he said. .

In June 2021, the board contracted for a master plan study to examine the uses of the high school campus, as part of a long-discussed renovation of the entire high school, which could include the addition of a new wing to accommodate ninth-grade students. be moved from the three colleges in the district.

In 2018, the district architect estimated that a total overhaul of the high school could cost between $138 million and $175 million, depending on the size of the project, and part of the master plan process could include updating that price. to account for recent price inflation and supply chain issues. The board has also approved contracts for several sub-studies to feed into the master plan and has heard updates on these sub-studies over the past several months.

District staff provided updates on these sub-studies at the board’s facilities and operations committee meeting. Monday eveningfollowed by Dietrich’s announcement that staff have resumed talks with PFM, the financial advisory firm who has assisted the board with numerous bond issues and refinancings over the past decade.

Readers may recognize PFM from recent discussions in Towamencin, the township where the high school is located, as PFM has collected, reviewed and analyzed bids on the potential sale of that township’s sewage system.

“A few years have passed and we haven’t borrowed, so we have to look at all this information and update all of this. It’s a really important piece, and we’ll report back to the board as soon as we have that,” Dietrich said.

District Facilities and Operations Manager Tom Schneider provided an update on several sub-studies and told the board that staff and architectural team visits to several recently renovated area high schools are now in progress. complete, with the district team now using those observations to design what the future high school might look like.

“We are in discussions to look at the size of the programs and try to determine the overall size of the buildings,” he said.

A hazmat study assessing the entire secondary school has now been completed, and staff are awaiting estimates of the cost of removing identified hazardous materials from the building. The first draft of a traffic study examining the high school campus and surrounding roads has also been completed, Schneider added, and is being discussed with the district traffic engineer. An enrollment study to be conducted by the Montgomery County Planning Commission examining the size of the student body in future years is expected to begin shortly, Schneider added, and the results will be presented to the committee as they become available. their completion.

The North Penn School Board will then meet at 7 p.m. May 10 at Pennfield Middle School 726 Forty Foot Road in Hatfield, and the Facilities and Operations Committee will then meet at 7 p.m. May 31 online. For more information, visit www.NPenn.org.