South Fayette looks to expand high school

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South Fayette officials are eyeing a high school expansion as the building continues to be squeezed for space.

High school principal Scott Milburn said Tuesday that limited space for classrooms, science labs and lockers will challenge the ability over the next two school years to accommodate growing enrollment and to offer advanced and elective courses.

“I am trying to be creative [with space] because we’re going to get to a point where we’re going to grow out of some things before we can open new things,” Mr. Milburn said.

Mr. Milburn expected his building’s population would rise by 72 students — from 744 to 816 — by the 2015-16 school year.

School board President Len Fornella said an updated population study will help the district determine space needs at the high school.

Demographer Shelby Stewman of Carnegie Mellon University will present the study results during a public meeting at 7 p.m. next Thursday in the Pride Room on the second floor of the administration building.

Mr. Stewman’s earlier study, in 2011, had predicted high school enrollment would rise by 390 students over 10 years.

Rising student numbers mean the high school will need to hire two teachers next year for core subjects —possibly English and math — and two more teachers in 2015-16, Mr. Milburn said.

Along with higher enrollment comes higher student requests for advanced, honors, elective and world language courses, but space, staffing and scheduling challenges make it difficult to offer them to all interested students, he said.

Board Vice President Teresa Burroughs said many parents want their children to take advanced classes to prepare them for college.

South Fayette previously has borrowed tens of millions of dollars to renovate, expand and construct space on its Old Oakdale Road campus.

The school board voted Jan. 21 to refinance $19.97 million in bonds from 2004 borrowing to save more than $1.7 million in interest costs over the next 14 years.

In other business, the school board scheduled four makeup days for winter weather closures and delays.

According to the revised district calendar, students will attend classes Feb. 17, Presidents’ Day; April 17, the Thursday before spring break; and April 25, formerly a professional development day.

Classes June 5 were extended from a half day to a full day.

The last day of school — a half day followed by graduation — was moved to June 6.

Superintendent Bille Rondinelli said families who already have made plans for any of those days may follow the usual procedure for excusing students from school.

Also, officials announced South Fayette has been awarded a $40,938 state grant from the Safe Schools program for a school resource officer.

“We’ll be able to have a township police officer dedicated to this campus on a full-time basis,” Mr. Fornella said.

The district must fund the position for at least two years. If money is available, the district may received 50 percent of their award the second year.

Andrea Iglar, freelance writer:

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