PT parents want a new high school to be built
The Peters Township School Board was looking at spending several million dollars during a meeting March 18 as a group of parents is pushing for a new high school, and the artificial turf on the high school stadium is at the end of its predicted life. The requests come on top of the $2.5 million spent last year on improving and replacing athletic fields near Pleasant Valley Elementary School.
About a year ago, Peters Township residents were surveyed as to whether they would support building a new high school ,with the result being a possible tax increase. Those who returned the survey gave a resounding negative response.
Now, however, a group of parents, many of whom are members of the PTA Area Council, spoke to the Peters Township School Board asking them to consider building a new high school, citing overcrowding and student safety.
The board took no action.
The group is circulating a petition online asking for support to build a new school, including distribution of a tri-fold brochure.
Parent Lisa Breigel, 100 Keystone Court, Venetia, told the board she supports construction and feels the survey results were “because the public is not fully informed as to the need for a new high school.”
Breigel said Peters Township has one of the lowest millage rates in Washington County, second only to the California Area School District, and has the highest median income, according to the 2010 census.
Parent Joanne Bates, 118 Lexington Drive, McMurray, spoke of overcrowding in the classrooms and in the hallways during class changes. Some of the classrooms, Bates said, do not have windows.
Parent Minna Allison, who is also part of the PTA Area Council, told the board members that safety is an issue, especially at the front door.
Allison said the online petition has been has been accessible since March 13 and there are 248 responses. There is a place to make comments on the petition, she said.
Interested residents may view or sign the petition at ipetitions.com/petition/improvements., Allison said.
Overcrowding will increase as enrollment is projected to jump from the current 1,496 students to 1,537 students by 2018. The capacity at the high school is 1,500 students.
When the original high school was completed in 1969, there were 623 students. The high school was expanded in 1982 when there were 1,165 students, and a large renovation was completed in 2000 when the enrollment was 1,123.
“I’d like to see a long-range plan for the district,” Breigel said.
The PTA Area Council stated in the brochure that neighboring school districts have or are in the process of new construction or renovation, including Bethel Park, Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon and South Fayette School districts.
And the high school was not the only topic of discussion involving needed improvements.
The artificial turf at the high school stadium is 10 years old, two years past its life expectancy.
Parent Barry McGlumphy, 121 Forestwood Drive, Venetia, is president of the district’s soccer boosters, a college professor and is trained in sports medicine. He said he believes the turf should be rehabilitated or replaced to eliminate any safety issues. The current turf has been repaired, but there remain some areas that are potential tripping sites.
Later in the meeting, board members unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the school’s architect HHSDR Architects in Pittsburgh, to prepare specifications to seek bids for turf replacement, and also authorizing Brian Geyer, athletic director, to obtain quotes for rehabilitating the existing turf. No potential amount of either rehabilitation or replacement was announced with the exception of the architect’s fees.
According to Joseph Dimperio, acting superintendent, architects fees are generally seven percent of the total project. However, if the board opted to rehabilitate the turf over replacement, HHSDR could charge a fee up to $40,000 for the replacement design.
Several board members questioned the $40,000 possible fee, including Cindy Golembiewski, board president. Board member David Hvizdos said $40,000 just for a design does “not make sense.”
“We don’t need to rush into this, but there is a time frame,” said board member Thomas McMurray, who is chairman of the finance committee. McMurray said work on the stadium turf could not begin until after graduation in June and would need to be completed by late August for football season.
Dimperios said the current turf is at “the end of its usable life.”
Solicitor Jack Cambest said the current field’s condition would not result in higher insurance rates. However, Cambest said, since the board is aware of the condition and if an injury would occur, the board would be open to legal action based on negligence.
Dimperio said any high school building renovation or replacement would not affect the stadium.