Tube City Almanac

January 31, 2012

Slow Progress Reported on School Construction

Category: News || By

The partial renovations at Francis McClure Intermediate School are close to completion, but the grounds still remain a construction zone, McKeesport Area School District officials said last week.

Meanwhile, the district is still waiting for the state Department of Environmental Protection to approve an erosion and sedimentation plan for the new school planned at the site of the demolished Cornell Intermediate School before it can break ground. The plan was submitted last May, officials said.

School directors are also awaiting a decision from the state Department of Education on their PlanCon D application for the proposed new elementary-intermediate school on part of the former Buck estate, a location that the district is pursuing by eminent domain. The application requests partial state reimbursement of the construction project.

During a public comment period at Wednesday's board meeting, swimming coach Scott Smith told officials he was concerned about a seeming lack of progress over the on the McClure and Cornell projects over the last several months, considering the unseasonably mild winter, and hoped that the board would continue to monitor the costs.

School Director Tom Maglicco reiterated his concerns about the overall costs of the three schools, arguing that the district has already spent as much money on the first two to date as it originally planned to spend for all three construction projects.

After the board meeting, Maglicco recapped how the construction costs have increased over the initial projection of approximately $47 million for the three schools --- roughly $6 million for Francis McClure, $21 million for Cornell and $21 million for the new elementary-intermediate school.

Currently, the district has incurred $47 million to $48 million in costs for the McClure and Cornell projects, Maglicco said. The addition of another major school construction would escalate projected total construction costs to around $77 million to $79 million, he said.

The total projected figures for the three schools have fluctuated throughout the board's discussions. As previously reported, school directors in September estimated total construction costs for all three projects at around $84 million.

Maglicco added that the district's debt service payment would increase by $1.3 million for the 2012-2013 school year.

He also wondered about the impact of these rising costs on other smaller projects throughout the district, including potential improvements to the football stadium. School Director Mark Holtzman reported during the meeting that the athletic committee recently inspected the stadium to check out the current conditions.

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