Mt. Lebanon manager says air is good at high school site

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Tests for air quality at the Mt. Lebanon High School renovation project have produced consistently clean results.

In response to concerns about the buildings in which students attend class while construction is ongoing, Curt Shaw, project manager for SE Technologies, detailed testing procedures for Mt. Lebanon school board during its monthly discussion meeting Monday.

His company took samples to test for dust, mold and bacteria in August, prior to students returning to school, he said, and the results were good.

"There were small levels of bacteria, but bacteria that are normal for any environment," he said.

Results were similar for September testing, which was conducted after school hours. During October and November, sampling occurred during the first half of the school day.

"All of those results were clean," Mr. Shaw told the school board.

Professional Service Industries has had similar results in testing for the presence of asbestos, with the findings reviewed by the Allegheny County Health Department.

Also during Monday's meeting:

• The board discussed nearly $39,000 in change orders for additional work on the high school project. They will come up for a vote Monday.

Since the start of the project, change orders have cost the district about $788,000 after pending insurance reimbursements, said Tom Berkebile of P.J. Dick, which provides construction management services.

The district has built more than $4 million into the project's budget toward unforeseen expenses.

"The way things are tracking, we're in good shape relative to the remaining contingencies," Mr. Berkebile assured the board.

Some board members continue to question why some of the items that have resulted in change orders were not included in the architect's plans for the project. They intend to have a representative of Celli-Flynn Brennan Architects and Planners attend the board's January construction update to discuss the issue.

• The board approved a five-year agreement with the Mt. Lebanon Secretarial/Aides Education Support Professionals Organization, through the 2016-17 school year.

The contract calls for an average annual salary increase of 2.89 percent over its five years. Employee contributions for health care will rise during the agreement, reaching 10.5 percent by the final year.

That amount will be comparable to what other groups of district employees are contributing, said Stephen Scheurer, director of human resources.

"After three or four years of getting everybody aligned, I think we're there," he said.

• The district plans to withdraw from its agreement with Parkway West Alternative Center of Education. Eight of the 12 participating school districts have withdrawn.

"We certainly value the program," superintendent Timothy Steinhauer said, but more cost-effective placements are available elsewhere.

Daniel Remely, the board's Parkway West representative and a supporter of the alternative center, said he understands the decision with regard to the cost.

"My interest in any program we get is that we keep these kids in school," he said.

Mt. Lebanon has five participants in the program this year: three seniors, a junior and a sophomore. The alternative center will stay in operation until the end of the school year.

• A proposed school calendar for 2013-14 was announced. The first day for students is scheduled for Sept. 3, after Labor Day, because of the high school project.

"The construction manager asked that, to facilitate the amount of work that can be done in the summer, we have the longest summer we can possibly have," Mr. Steinhauer said.


Harry Funk, freelance writer:


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