MANDATA - Line Mountain School Board members approved a letter of intent Tuesday instructing construction companies to proceed with the start of a project at the high school and Trevorton school, but they will be doing so without the approval of the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for one part of the sewer portion of the project.

Josh Bower, project manager with Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates Architects, and Justin Kuhn, civil engineer with SAIC Energy, Environment and Infrastructure, both advised the board to move forward because there will be no sewer construction at the junior/senior high school until at least a month into construction.

Furthermore, Bower said, if the project is delayed any further, the construction would end after the 2013-14 school year starts in September.

"We need to move forward. If we wait two weeks, we're two weeks into the school year," he said.

The sewer portion of the project was already approved by Lower Mahanoy Township Board of Supervisors Monday night, and Bower said he is confident DEP will also approve the plans.

However, Directors Lauren Hackenburg and Lamont Masser were not in favor of moving forward without every aspect approved.

"I don't want to stick my neck out. I understand you feel confident, but I'm not going to have total faith," Hackenburg said.

Masser said approving the motion is like "rolling the dice," because there is no guarantee the sewer plans would be approved.

"It's not smart business to say we hope we'll get DEP approval," Hackenburg added.

Director David Scott Bartholomew said he's not worried because the high school campus has the space to expand the sewer project if needed.

Last month, for the Trevorton Elementary School addition, the board awarded the general construction contract to Zartman Construction, Northumberland at $1,068,000; the mechanical and plumbing construction contracts to Bognet Inc., Hazle Township, at $211,206 and $67,614 respectively, and electrical contract to Howard Organization, Bloomsburg, at $184,800.

For the high school addition, the board awarded the general construction contract to The Robert Feaster Corporation, Northumberland, at $1,537,000; the plumbing contract to Silvertip Inc., Lewisburg, at $57,500, and the electrical contract to Howard Organization at $321,000.

A four-classroom addition, which will be built at the northwest corner of the Trevorton building, is part of a plan to send all students in kindergarten through fourth grade to Trevorton and fifth- and sixth-grade students to the high school to join seventh and eighth graders.

Directors Dennis Erdman and Bartholomew made and seconded the motion to move forward, and it passed 7-2 with Hackenburg and Masser voting against it.

Safety plans

Superintendent Dave Campbell also reported to the board that he and administrators have been reviewing safety plans and building designs since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month.

Hackenburg made a motion to allow teachers and administration to be permitted to carry firearms on school property, but it was tabled to allow Solicitor Rich Roberts to research the legality of doing so or whether hiring armed guards would be the better option.

Melissa Wynn, who has a daughter at Dalmatia Elementary School, approached the board and said it is time for armed guards to be present at the schools, but arming teachers is expecting them to "go above and beyond" their duties.

In other business

Dan Zablosky, 50, of Trevorton, was unanimously approved as the new school board director when Director Denise Clouser, who represented Region III (Zerbe and West Cameron townships), resigned.

Zablosky said he has one child in the elementary school and one child in the high school, and works in management at Michael Foods.

"I have two kids in the district and there are changes coming to the district. I'd like to be involved," he said.

There will also be a transition meeting for elementary teachers and parents at 6:30 p.m. today. The purpose of the meeting is to allow the community to express their concerns and brainstorm ideas to help the children transition from three elementary schools to one. Also needing help transitioning are the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders to the high school. There will be more meetings in the coming months for this purpose.