South Fayette school board mulls expansion

Published Jul 15, 2014 at 10:31 pm (Updated Jul 16, 2014 at 9:32 am)

Costs for any potential expansions and renovations at South Fayette School District will stay secret for now. After the district denied the Tribune-Review's right to know request citing "pre-decisional deliberations," board members at the July 15 committee hearing spent most time discussing the potential for 47,000 square feet in expansions, including up to 23 new classrooms and athletic field improvements and additions.

During public comment, Natalie Cooper, of Bridgeville, told the board she's upset members refuse to discuss costs of potential expansion as well as with any new traffic study.

"What is the deep, dark secret here? I shouldn't have to fill out a right to know request ... my right to know request is filling out my tax forms. I deserve to know as a parent and a taxpayer. You should have that information and have it available to the public," she said.

No vote has moved the expansion project, though the board is hearing suggestions from PJ Dick and Eckles Architecture to add three to five tennis courts, replace football field turf and expand the wrestling room. 

"I think the better move, if any, would be to expand the existing wrestling room instead of the logistical problems presented in building a new one," board president Leonard Fornella said.

The only business on the books was a unanimous vote to approve the purchase of three sets of new textbooks for advanced placement French, and standard Spanish and German to have them in time for the start of the new school year. 

In other business, food service director Tricia Wood suggested that the district stay with its current pricing and planning for school lunches. She told the board it's a disservice to the district's children to try this year to adhere to standards put forth by the federal Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

"The act doesn't meet the needs of our students. Our athletes, and kids staying after school, they can't go on 750 calories," she said.

"And it requires all whole grains ... so no bagels, we can't use ciabatta bread for sandwiches ... when the manufacturers catch up and come up with some better quality whole grains (and healthy food options) that last longer in storage, then we'll come back to assess in the future if we can meet the standards."

Wood said they're offering healthy options in their a la carte style cafeterias and still offering after school meals. But she said insisting on low sodium and whole grain items limited the cafeterias' abilities to keep food stocked and offer reasonable amounts of condiments.

The board is also considering ahead of its July 22 voting meeting to issue real estate refunds from Jordan Tax due to reductions in assessments or overpayment of taxes.

Superintendent Dr. Bille Rondinelli also presented an award given to the district from the Carnegie Science Center in the first ever STEM Excellence Award for science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs and curricula. South Fayette was among three districts to receive the award. 

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