William Penn School will not be ready for beginning of school year

Posted: 12:18 AM EDT Aug 16, 2013   Updated: 12:19 AM EDT Aug 16, 2013

Saying they are "running behind somewhat," the Allentown School District's director of facilities services broke the news Thursday night that construction on the William Penn school is not going as planned and will not be ready to open on the first day of classes.

The school, which is located at Fourth and Allen streets, is now expected to be ready to educate youngsters by "mid-October at the earliest," according to Robert Sperling, ASD's director of facility services. The reason for the delay was due to construction issues and the weather.

In the interim period, students will receive their instruction at classrooms ASD is renting on Lehigh Street.

Sperling added the project will go overbudget because the work had already surpassed the alotment allocated with the construction companies. He did not specify what that amount would be.

In what amounted to more bad news Thursday night, Sperling also informed the board that roof construction damaged the gymnasium floor at William Allen High School to the point it needs to be replaced.

The culprit, Sperling said, was that roof construction being performed during the summer was "not tied in correctly" when the workers went home at night on two separate occasions, and wouldn't you know it, those two nights it rained. The water from the rain dripped into and on the hardwood court, even though it was covered to prevent dust that would have been generated by the roof work. However, the coverage atop the floor was not designed to prevent water damage, and the water seeped through and onto the court, evidently soaking the feathers of a now drenched Allen Canary.

"The boards are warped," Sperling said. "...And the floor cannot be replaced."

To complicate matters further, the district had planned on having that floor sanded by a company called Hardcourts, LLC. Obviously, since the floor is now akin to soggy tree bark, the sanding services are moot and thus, Sperling informed the board he needed their permission for him to send a letter to the company informing them that their contract is now null and void. Since the work has not been performed, Hardcourts is not entitled to payment. However, if the company purchased supplies for the job, Sperling said the district would be on the hook for that and told board members that the district would acquire the supplies "and find a use for them" down the proverbial road.

As for the cost of the new floor - $295,678.47 to be exact, will be paid, of course, by the roofer's insurance company, he said.

In the meantime the school's indoor ballers will have to pound, hit and dribble in other locales around the district until, at best, the end of October, while the eight-week timetable to install a new floor passes. For example, the volleyball team will be setting, serving and jumping at Trexler Middle School in the interim. Regular physical education classes will take place at various locations until the floor is ready.

"It's not an ideal situation," said C. Russell Mayo, ASD superintendent.

In other business, the remediation of an old mill building into an apartment complex that is seeking Keystone Opportunity Zone status made it out of committee Thursday night and will come before the board for final approval at the regular board meeting August 22nd.

The Adelaide Silk Mill redevelopment project is seeking the KOZ designation and the school district is one of three taxing bodies - Lehigh County and the City of Allentown being the other two - who must approve the project to achieve it. In an effort to entice passage, the potential developer, Boris Milosev, has proposed to pay the district $20,000 annually in lieu of taxes.

Resting at 333 W. Court St., the property is comprised of two buildings totaling about 235,000 square feet. The p
Saying they are "running behind somehat," the Allentown School District's director of facilities services broke the news Thursday night that construction on the William Penn school is not going as planned and will not be ready to open on the first day of classes.