Wiring, windows recommended for North Allegheny schools

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Upgrading wiring to support technology and replacing deteriorating windows at Marshall Middle School are priorities under the North Allegheny School District capital funding and technology plan for 2012-13.

"We have to maintain our resources," Superintendent Raymond Gualtieri told school directors Nov. 28. "In this time of tough financial times, it is very important for us to maintain what we have because we don't have the funds to replace them."

The capital funding plan, which provides a five-year projection of projects, was established in 1984 for improvements that cost $25,000 to $250,000. Projects that cost less than $25,000 are paid through the regular budget; those that cost more than $250,000 are supported by the construction fund, said Robert Gaertner, director of facilities.

The plan groups $4.6 million worth of projects into three categories -- facilities and athletics, technology and transportation.

Mr. Gualtieri noted that the district has about $470,000 available from outside sources to use toward the projects, including $120,000 raised by the North Allegheny Foundation to support technology.

The district has 54 proposed projects at the schools, Newman Stadium, Baierl Center and the bus garage for a total cost of $2.6 million. Projects are proposed at most district buildings, with the exception of three elementary schools: Peebles, which the administration has proposed closing; Bradford Woods; and Marshall. Repairs to Bradford Woods and Marshall have been deferred to the fifth year of the plan, Mr. Gaertner said.

Replacing the wood windows and doors at Marshall Middle School, however, can't wait.

Board member Thomas Schwartzmier said the wood is so rotted that a person can stick a finger into it in many places and water is seeping into the building.

Mr. Gaertner said district maintenance employees have had to rebuild some of the worst windows.

Proposed facilities projects include repairing exterior damages to McKnight Elementary, Carson Middle School and the intermediate high school and restoring electricity to the area behind Hosack Elementary, which was donated to the district by the U.S. Army Reserve.

Proposed projects at the intermediate high school involve installing additional security cameras and a batting cage, while it is recommended that the district refinish the gym floor at the senior high and pave the driveway to the softball field.

Another $1.1 million is recommended in technology projects.

Bill Phillips, senior manager of information technology, said that infrastructure and network stability and security need to be upgraded. He also recommended installing digital whiteboards and projectors in all fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms.

Another area that needs attention is disaster recovery, he said. Backup tapes for all district buildings are kept at McKnight.

Board member Joseph Greenberg noted that it was a risk to keep the backup tapes in a building that was so close to other district buildings.

The third leg of the report concerned transportation.

Roger Botti, director of transportation and operations, said the district has 21 buses that are either 14 years old or have 140,000 miles on them, the district's criteria for replacement.

Eight of those buses should have been replaced last year but were not because of the tight budget.

He recommended replacing seven large, two medium and two small buses in 2013-14 for a total cost of $856,500.

He said the district will look into outsourcing bus transportation in 2014 when the contract with the drivers expires.

education - neigh_north

Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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