Erie PA Feb 19 2020
Entering a public school in the city of Erie will be different by the time classes start in 2020-21.
As part of its approximately $80 million renovation and repair plan, the Erie School District is embarking on the construction of security vestibules and the addition of other safety measures at all 16 of its school buildings, including Erie High School and Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy.
The Erie School Board in January approved bids for the $746,000 project, and district officials in a week will hold a pre-construction meeting with the two contractors, said Neal Brokman, the Erie School District’s executive director of operations.
He said the contractors hope to begin work on some of the buildings as early as April, with nearly all of the installations to be completed by the first day of school, in late August, for 2020-21.
The general contractor on the project is E.E. Austin & Son Inc., of Erie, with a bid of $436,000, according to district records. The contractor for the electrical work is Newco Electric, also of Erie, with a base bid of $308,000.
The project will create security vestibules in buildings that do not already have them and will upgrade existing vestibules. The vestibules will provide visitors a place to wait after they enter through a building’s main doors and before the office staff activates a buzzer to let them into the main building.
Most of the vestibules will be connected to a school’s main office. In cases where the main offices are on a second floor or otherwise inaccessible, the security vestibules will include closed-circuit cameras so the office staff can see a person before he or she is allowed into a building, Brokman said. The staff can gauge whether a person is a threat before letting him or her into the building.
The vestibules, Brokman said, will create “a direct line of sight” between a school’s office staff and visitors. He said the vestibules will help standardize security at the schools and give visitors a place to wait.
“It gets people out of the weather,” Brokman said.
He said the contractors will start work on the buildings that only need upgrades to the vestibules. Those buildings will get new and additional hardware. They are East and Strong Vincent middle schools and Diehl, Harding and Lincoln elementary schools.
The installation of vestibules, Brokman said, will occur at Wilson Middle School and Grover Cleveland, JoAnna Connell, Jefferson, McKinley, Perry and Pfeiffer-Burleigh elementary schools and the Emerson-Gridley building, the site of the district’s alternative education programs.
Also getting vestibules are Collegiate, Erie High and Edison Elementary School. The installations will occur at those buildings as part of larger building renovations, Brokman said.
The Collegiate work, which includes a new roof and renovations to its gyms, is to start in March. The bids for the Erie High renovations, including new windows and a new system for heating and ventilation, will go out after July 1. The Edison renovations, which will be throughout the building, are to occur in the 2021-22 year, Brokman said.
The Erie School District has already put new roofs on several buildings and made other repairs as part of Erie schools Superintendent Brian Polito’s plan to make the schools in the 11,000-student district “warm, safe and dry.” The district is financing the renovations with the help of the $14 million in additional annual state aid that the General Assembly approved in 2017.
Bids for the $746,000 vestibule project came in well below the district’s estimate of $2.6 million, excluding the work at Collegiate, Erie High and Edison, Brokman said. He said the district used the savings from the vestibule project to add to the Collegiate work, including getting a 30-year roof warranty and spending $700,000 on masonry fixes.