Mt. Lebanon school board is expected to approve nearly a quarter of a million dollars in change orders pertaining to the high school renovation project.
The additional costs will come up for a vote at the board's meeting Monday. The largest of the change orders, which total $231,611, involves asbestos remediation.
The district will pay $71,999 to Precision Environmental for demolition, abatement and reconstruction of some interior walls in the high school's fine arts department. Asbestos was discovered during abatement work in the summer, said Tom Berkebile, project manager at P.J. Dick, the construction management firm for the renovation.
"There was no indication that the partitions were infused with asbestos," he told the board during its discussion meeting on Monday.
Board member Daniel Remely contended that the problem should have been detected earlier and the cost included in the overall contract.
"That's near a thousand dollars a lineal foot," he said about the change order. "Something is not right."
A related change order calls for a $5,297 credit for the contracted cost of demolishing the affected partitions.
The bulk of the other cost overruns pertain to work on the sixth floor of the high school's academic wing, including improvements to address fire safety.
Josephine Posti, school board president, said the district built more than $4 million into the cost of the project, which totals about $109 million, for contingencies, and only 16 percent of that amount has been used so far.
Also during Monday's meeting:
• Board members discussed changes to district graduation requirements, which they also expect to approve Monday.
Starting in 2013-14, the required number of credits will increase from 42.8 to 43, although Brian McFeely, high school principal, said most students graduate with closer to 50 credits.
The change stems from the elimination of a ninth-grade class, Technology and Media Applications, as a requirement. Instead, students will have the opportunity to choose from among more than 20 courses toward fulfillment.
Mr. McFeely explained that the shift in emphasis reflects more learning about technology prior to high school.
"Students are coming in with all kinds of different experience when it comes to technology education," he said.
The high school also plans to add several electives: engineering statics, Arabic language and culture, finance, and introduction to business. No additional instructors will be required.
"It's a matter of reallocating and moving staff around," said Mr. McFeely.
Finally, the district will address the state Education Department's replacement of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test with the Keystone Exam as a graduation requirement for 2013, a change that was mandated abruptly during the summer.
"This is going to be a transition year for every school district in the commonwealth," said Timothy Steinhauer, superintendent.
• The school board also will vote Monday on the district's constituent-driven strategic plan, which has been in the works since September 2011.
Members of the community worked with school officials to identify the district's goals, said Deborah Allen, assistant superintendent of elementary education. Among them is preparing students "for increasingly complex life and work environments in the 21st century," while the district maintains fiscal responsibility.
Following the board's approval, the district will submit the plan to the Education Department.
Harry Funk, freelance writer: email@example.com.