USC school board divided over track, fence project

Published Feb 25, 2014 at 9:30 am (Updated Feb 25, 2014 at 9:30 am)

After hours of discussion stretched over multiple meetings, the Upper St. Clair School Board on Feb. 24 voted 6-3 to replace fencing around the high school track in addition to the track itself.

Board President Louis Mafrice, as well as board members Louis Oliverio and Harry Kunselman, voted against including the replacement of the fence in the contract for $490,000 that was awarded to Northern Athletic Construction Company.

Board Vice President Frank Kerber, as well as board members Amy Billerbeck, Barbara Bolas, Buffy Hasco, Angela Petersen and Rebecca Stern, voted in favor of including the fence in the project.

Earlier in the meeting on Feb. 24, a motion to replace the track without including the adjacent fence was defeated by at 3-6 vote. That vote was the precise opposite of the successful motion, as Mafrice, Oliverio and Kunselman voted in favor of replacing the track without the fence.

Kerber, Billerbeck, Bolas, Hasco, Petersen and Stern voted against replacing only the track but not the fence.

The school district’s architect, David McLean, had recommended the fence be included in the work to replace the track, as well as some athletic components. The fencing separates the track from the spectator’s area of the stadium.

McLean had shown pictures at the Feb. 10 meeting which showed cracks in the asphalt around the fence posts in the existing fence, which he said were likely directing water to and possibly under the track surface. He said this would serve to undermine the track and that the replacement of the fence would include new asphalt underneath the fence.

The board members who voted against replacing the fence at this time said they were not comfortable with spending the $65,000 for the fence when there were other capital project needs in the district. Mafrice and Kunselman said they felt the fencing project should be taken on as a fund-raising project by the district’s advancement office.

Oliverio said, “The fence has been there for 40 years. It could be there indefinitely. It’s a matter of cosmetics. Every dollar counts now more than ever.”

Bolas said, “It’s a long term cost saving to do it right the first time.”

She said she viewed replacing the fence and the asphalt under it as protecting their investment in the new $400,000 track. “It’s important that we not turn a blind eye to the risk.”

Hasco said, “I use the track regularly. There are so many cracks.”

Billerbeck said, “The track and fence should be handled together. Common sense tells me it should be done now.”

McLean had previously told the board that construction is expected to start on May 12. He said the contractor is expected to clean up the site for the June 12 high school graduation, and then resume work. The work is expected to be completed by July 21 in time for football camp.

In other business Feb. 24, the board:

Named Mark Miller Supervisor of Elementary Education, Kindergarten through Fourth Grade. Superintendent Patrick O’Toole said these duties will be additional duties added onto his role as principal of Eisenhower Elementary.

Acknowledged the retirement of school bus driver Beverly Moodt. O’Toole said she had been a driver with the district for 36.5 years, since May 11, 1977.

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