Mt. Lebanon school board to vote on year's capital projects

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Mt. Lebanon school board plans to vote Feb. 24 on $1.6 million in capital projects for 2014.

At Monday’s discussion meeting, board President Elaine Cappucci acknowledged that the amount is somewhat higher than the district usually spends. In the 2013-14 budget, for example, slightly more than $1.1 million is earmarked toward capital projects, books and equipment.

“We did put things off in recent years,” Ms. Cappucci said.

Among the higher-cost items on the 2014 list is $300,000 toward a new sound system and curtains in the high school auditorium. The improvements have been under consideration as a capital project for the past few years instead of being part of the ongoing $109 million high school renovation.

“They were in need of replacement regardless of what we are doing with the high school,” Ms. Cappucci said. 

Superintendent Timothy Steinhauer noted that the district has rented a sound system for the past two school musicals because the current equipment has become inadequate.

Another proposed capital project involves upgrading the district’s cellular telephone coverage. The cost is estimated at $400,000 but could end up being less.

“We still have work to do with vendors to see if there are any other solutions,” Mr. Steinhauer said. He explained that reception is poor to nonexistent in parts of some buildings, which can create a “safety issue” if the regular telephone system is out in the event of an emergency.

The capital projects list also includes a large-scale trophy case at the new high school athletic building. In December, the district received a bid of $73,828 toward design and construction of the display case.

Mrs. Cappucci said such an expense possibly could be covered by donations from alumni, a concept that also was addressed in previous discussions about the project.

Projects are considered capital in nature if they are more than simple repairs, extending the life of the original asset by more than a year.

In other business Monday:

■ The board discussed revisions to three district policies and plans to vote on two of them Feb. 24.

A revised policy addressing residency and enrollment will be subject to further review by the board’s policy committee, focusing on a section about students who want to attend Mt. Lebanon schools and pay tuition.

Mr. Steinhauer said the district has been approached by organizations about making such arrangements.

“As long as it doesn’t impact the educational programs, I think it’s in the district’s best interest to look at it as a potential source of revenue,” he said.

The policy revisions on which the board will vote pertain to real estate tax collection and community use of school facilities.

The tax collection policy increases the amounts for legal fees and other expenses, to be covered by delinquent taxpayers.

The community use policy allows indoor use of high school athletic facilities on Sundays. Previously, only the outdoor facilities were available. The Sunday provision applies only to the high school.

■ Improvements to the district’s Internet access services were discussed, and the board plans to vote on spending $173.40 per month on a two-year service agreement with Verizon.

The service would back up the district’s main system, which is contracted through the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, to ensure continuous Internet access at all times for the district.

Harry Funk, freelance writer:

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