Scope of updates needed unclear in West Allegheny

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Forty years ago, McKee Elementary in North Fayette and Wilson Elementary in Findlay were built from the same set of plans.

Now, both need work.

West Allegheny is proposing major renovations to the schools, but the district hasn't decided yet on the final cost or extent of the work.

School board members voted Sept. 19 to submit renovation plans to the state Department of Education that include a maximum of $28 million to $30 million in infrastructure improvements and modernization work at McKee and Wilson.

Officials said the final plans depend on district resources and needs.

"We have to do something, but the question is how much we can afford to do," said board member Ed Faux, chairman of the property and supply committee.

Superintendent John DiSanti said the district will analyze its finances and determine the scope of work during the next couple of months.

He said plans include building a small addition to Wilson and moving the administrative offices to Wilson from their current space in Donaldson Elementary in North Fayette.

Kenneth Fibbi, the building and grounds director, said work could range from more basic infrastructure improvements -- such as new or upgraded roofs and electrical, safety and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems -- to modern enhancements such as energy-efficient equipment and interior renovations.

Mr. Fibbi said McKee and Wilson both were built in 1972 from an identical set of plans. Additions were built at Wilson in 1992 and at McKee in 1999.

"They are well maintained and safe facilities that are in need of modernization," Mr. Fibbi said.

"There are needs. The original buildings are 40 years old."

Mr. DiSanti said the state submission meets an Oct. 1 deadline for the possibility of partial project reimbursement.

Proposals after that date would not be eligible for state subsidies because of Gov. Tom Corbett's budget moratorium on school construction funding.

Business manager George Safin said at most, the district could receive roughly $3 million to $4 million in state reimbursements, but the amount would depend on various factors, including funding availability.

"There's no guarantee of anything, but we are at least giving ourselves the ability to get something should it be there," Mr. Safin said.

The state submission in-cluded a large amount of data from two studies.

A facilities assessment, completed in June by Thomas & Williamson Project Management of Ross, outlined plans for different levels improvements, from basic asset protection to full modernization, Mr. Fibbi said.

An enrollment study by demographer Shelby Stewman predicted the total number of elementary students in Findlay, North Fayette and Oakdale will decrease slightly by 2020.

The report found the number of kindergartners to fifth-graders will rise by 40 pupils in McKee but decrease by 50 in Wilson and fall by 25 in Donaldson.

education - neigh_west

Andrea Iglar, freelance writer:


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