SF High School expected to have nearly 1,100 students in 2020

Published Feb 20, 2014 at 2:55 pm (Updated Feb 20, 2014 at 2:55 pm)

The South Fayette School District has taken the first steps to address overcrowding at the high school.

At the school board’s Feb. 18 meeting, members discussed the possibility of initiating a feasibility study on what it would take to add on to the high school.

The building, which was constructed more than 10 years ago, was designed to house 800 students. Projections show that by 2015, there will be 805 students in the building.

At a meeting held Feb. 6, demographer Dr. Shelby Stewman presented two scenarios for growth at the high school. The first scenario predicted a 13 percent growth rate and the second a 16 percent growth rate by 2020. That means that by 2020, the high school – which currently has a student population of roughly 757 – will have between 1,077 and 1,094 students.

“We have to move forward as expeditiously as possible,” said Leonard Fornella, president of the school board. In addition to more classrooms, Fornella said the board has to look at expanding space for science labs, cafeterias and other common areas.

David Esposito of Eckles Architecture, the firm that designed the district’s new intermediate school, was at the Feb. 18 meeting. He presented the board with a proposal letter to prepare a feasibility study for the possible high school expansion.

The fee would be $15,000 to prepare the study, which would be credited in full to the project once it is started.

“We would work with the school district to do a study that’s beyond PDE (Pennsylvania Department of Education) guidelines,” Esposito said.

He explained that currently, the PlanCon process, which school districts in Pennsylvania were required to follow and the reimbursement that school districts would receive has been suspended, or placed on a moratorium by Gov. Tom Corbett. However, Esposito said “people are still proceeding with projects.”

He added that there will be no reimbursement from the state until the moratorium is lifted. Currently, there are about 160 projects in queue waiting for reimbursement.

Esposito said the $15,000 fee to prepare the study is the standard the firm charges. He said the study would include looking at adding space for extra classes, science labs, cafeterias and other areas. It would also include visits to other schools and colleges in the region.

The board is set to vote on whether to accept the feasibility study proposal at its Feb. 25 meeting.

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