North Star elementary school

The exterior of the North Star Elementary School in Boswell, on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. The decision was made by the school board of directors to close the district’s middle school in Kantner.

BOSWELL – North Star’s school board are moving forward with a plan that would close the district’s decades-old middle school and expand its Boswell elementary building into a K to 8th grade building.

School officials approved the approximately $30 million move after spending months considering a list of different options for the district, which has both an elementary and middle school that need extensive repairs.

In a 6-3 vote, the board chose to expand the elementary school over the middle school

“Right now, we have general information about this (concept). And now that we’ve narrowed the plan down to one option, we can develop a plan for what the elementary school will look like and what it’ll cost,” Superintendent Louis Lepley said.

In any case, the Boswell elementary building will need an addition to accommodate two more grade levels. A security entrance area and an enlarged gym are also envisioned.

Upgrades to the rest of the current elementary school building – HVAC, among them – are also needed, Lepley said.

Lepley said other construction project options would have cost the district as much as $35 million. And an option to renovate all three schools and continue as-is – one the board quickly dropped – would have cost more than $28 million.

The architectural firm Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates have been aiding the district in the process, providing preliminary design options and estimates.

The district’s next step will be settling on on a contract with the company to develop a more detailed plan for an expanded K to 8 elementary school, Lepley said.

Tuesday’s vote was approved by board President Martin Blough and members Bernard Carlson Jr, Colleen DeLuca, Michael Revak, Carol Shaulis and Cindy West.

Robbie Bloom, Kathy Shaffer and Gina Wiedenhoft cast dissenting votes, district officials said.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

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