Decker’s construction management experience key to selection for vacancy at South Middleton School Board | Education

With major repairs and renovations looming, the majority of South Middleton School Board members selected a candidate with a background in construction project management.

Board members voted 7-1 on Monday to nominate James Decker to replace Bethanne Sellers, who stepped down on September 6. A resident of the district for 25 years, Decker edged out three other candidates for the vacant seat.

“I look forward to the challenge and the opportunity to serve the community,” Decker said. “I hope my experience can be useful. I can be an asset to the facilities committee on any future project. »

A senior project manager with Reynolds Consulting Engineers of Harrisburg, Decker has over 26 years of experience in design engineering and project management involving the construction of HVAC and plumbing systems, primarily on school buildings.

The professional summary on his resume lists “strong experience assisting school districts with long-term facility assessments, energy savings, and project budgets.” Locally, Decker said he has worked on projects for Camp Hill, East Pennsboro and Shippensburg school districts.

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“I have experience dealing with contractual issues, staying on budget for projects and dealing with day-to-day construction-related personnel issues,” he told board members during his meeting. maintenance.

The four candidates were called into the council chambers one at a time on Monday evening to answer the same set of questions about the district’s strengths and weaknesses, the qualifications they bring to the council, and their thoughts on student achievement and the professional development.

Board members then deliberated on the merits of the nominees before voting 7-1 in favor of Decker. Terry Draper voted against the nomination. No votes were taken on the nomination of Michael MacIvor, Christopher Sorg and David Wickard. Decker sat down right away and attended Monday’s regular board meeting.

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Draper recommended MacIvor for the vacancy, citing the candidate’s past experience with curriculum and student services. A retired Army lieutenant colonel, MacIvor was a social studies teacher at Boiling Springs High School from 2007 to 2018.

“I’m okay with that, but I’m also okay that the other nominees bring a range of skills,” said board vice-chairman Robin Scherer. “In light of our facilities committee meeting last week, where we had to undertake many improvements, I think Decker’s experience in project management could bring a lot to the board.”


Five are applying for a vacant seat on the South Middleton School Board

Scherer chairs the committee that reviewed a facility condition assessment report prepared by the McClure Company, a Harrisburg-based engineering firm. Company representatives visited the four schools in the district to assess the condition of site features, interior and exterior structures, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.

The assessment report identified nine “critical” projects that the district should undertake over the next two years. The company defined “critical” as “extremely worn or damaged.” Three of the nine projects involve aging systems that are approximately 23 years old, original to the Yellow Breeches Middle School building and have exceeded their useful life. These systems include rooftop HVAC units, terminal equipment such as exhaust motors and fans, and the school water heater.

Replacing the rooftop units could range from $1.69 million to nearly $2 million, according to preliminary project estimates cited in the report. Terminal equipment replacement is valued at approximately $1.4 million to $1.96 million, while water heater replacement ranges from $60,000 to $140,000.

The nine “critical” projects, in total, range from $10 million to $14 million. Additionally, the McClure report identified 18 “poor” projects, meaning the work should be done in the next two to four years. Total estimates for “poor” projects range from $8.8 million to just over $12 million.

Ahead of his Monday night interview, Decker reviewed The Sentinel’s list of “critical” and “poor” projects. “There are obviously financial challenges,” he said. “Delays on equipment, costs are exploding. I think it’s a challenge, but one that obviously has to be met.

Council advertises

In one of his first moves as a board member, Decker voted Monday to announce the qualifications of contractors interested in doing mechanical and plumbing work at the college. “Requests for Qualifications” should be returned by October 14 for possible recommendation from District Administrators on October 17.

The plan is to invite McClure representatives to the Oct. 17 meeting to provide a detailed report to the full board on the results of the assessment, Superintendent James Estep said Monday.

“The most likely scenario is that we’re just doing middle school mechanical work first,” Estep said. He added that work could be carried out next summer with a major renovation at the high school scheduled for the summer of 2024.


The South Middleton School Board has had a full turnover of members since the end of June 2021

On Nov. 14, the administration plans to bring in Brad Remig to brief school board members on the options available to issue bonds to fund proposed middle and high school improvements. Remig is Managing Director of PFM Financial Advisors LLC, the agency South Middleton has used for past construction and renovation projects.

Although permission to advertise the qualifications elicited a 9-0 vote from council members, the motion passed pending counsel’s review and approval.

“I remind council and the public that asking for qualifications does not commit the district to any project or commit district funds to any project,” Estep said. “It just gives the administration the authority to place an announcement to begin the process,” said board chairman Brad Group.

Joseph Cress is a reporter for The Sentinel covering education and history. You can reach him at [email protected] or by calling 717-218-0022.