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Work continues as students head back to class at Brownsville Area

Frank Horka felt like he returned to a brand new school when he stopped into Brownsville Middle School last week to organize his room for the return of students Tuesday.

"This is a big improvement since I left here in May," said Horka. "When this is all done I think we'll have one of the nicest schools in the area."

If you ask Superintendent Larry Golembiewski, he'll say "It's a Taj Mahal of middle schools."

"It's absolutely gorgeous," Golembiewski said. "I've never seen so much ceramic tile."

The $17 million renovation project of the high school and middle school is expected to be completed around the return of school next September, Golembiewski said.

While renovations continue on the interior of the high school, the middle school classrooms have been completed. At the middle school, the administrative offices, cafeteria and library are expected to be completed this winter and the gymnasium is supposed to be ready in November, according to Golembiewski.

The general contractor, Kusevich Contracting Inc., in Pittsburgh, installed new windows throughout and changed the facade on both buildings.

Originally, the high school was built in the mid-1960s and added onto in 1972. In 2001 Redstone Middle School closed and middle school students then started coming to the high school.

Golembiewski said limited space made it necessary to make changes. Work began in 2003 with asbestos abatement.

"It's extremely exciting because of the technology that's in the rooms and the equipment -- it's state of the art," Golembiewski said.

Once completed, the building will have air conditioning throughout and all restrooms will have automatic fixtures. Chalkboards will no longer be in the building. Instead teachers will use white boards with dry-erase markers.

The middle school now has its own family and consumer science room with all new appliances, including microwaves, ovens, washers, dryers and dishwashers. The classes previously shared facilities with the high school.

Standing in the computer room as technicians worked to connect new computers, high school principal Richard Gates said, "I don't think there's anybody around who has as nice a computer room as we do."

Over at the high school Gates stood in what used to be the old gymnasium, explaining the space will contain 12 classrooms divided by a library with two huge skylights. The work will be done by Christmas, he said.

Guidance offices will eventually reside in what used to be the boys' lockerroom and above that floor there will be an art room where the girls' locker room once was.

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