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Shaler's Scott Primary School's opening delayed until 2018-19

| Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, 12:54 p.m.
The Shaler Area School Board announced that Scott Primary School in Glenshaw will not open during this school year - scheduled to open for the 2018-19 school year.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
The Shaler Area School Board announced that Scott Primary School in Glenshaw will not open during this school year - scheduled to open for the 2018-19 school year.

The new Scott Primary School will not open during the 2017-18 school year as initially planned, according to Shaler Area Superintendent Sean Aiken.

“This gives our students and teachers and our principals and our district office and transportation and everybody else a little bit of a breather to, kind of, do school, finish the year out strong and then transition into the new primary school next August,” he told around 35 attendees at a Sept. 25 town hall meeting at Shaler Area Elementary.

Bethany Baker, district communications specialist, said one reason for the postponement beyond the intended January opening was “concern with soil stability related to the construction of the retaining wall along Clare Street early in the construction process. Steps were taken to rectify the situation before proceeding with further construction.” Another factor — also mentioned during a May town hall — was “unusually wet” weather last winter.

“You've talked about adjustments to the timeline. Have there been adjustments to cost — cost overrun? And who is responsible for that?” asked parent Rob Miller.

Aiken responded that the district is reviewing those issues with Dan Kiefer, Massaro CM Services LLC project manager, and J. Greer Hayden, HHSDR Architects/Engineers president, as well as with the district solicitor and school board.

“Those are daily conversations we are having right now. That's also yet to be determined,” Aiken said.

Parent Courtney Long said she is already speaking to her child about attending kindergarten in the new building.

“As a parent, how do we know if it's (the building progress is) falling behind, and whether or not that kindergarten class is going to start?”

According to Aiken, the district anticipates the building's completion by April or May. Officials will provide updates through its website and at upcoming town halls. When school board member Tim Gapsky asked if they could move the next meeting from March to January, Aiken said the district wants to “be open and transparent about the progress” and is open to holding the forum earlier.

Once construction is complete, the 705 Scott Ave., Glenshaw school will replace the former Rogers Primary School, which closed following an April 2015 fire.

Rogers students have attended Burchfield Elementary since the incident.

Rogers and Jeffery Primary students will attend Scott Primary after its completion.

Parent Trisha Sachs asked if the district will retain its current teachers.

“There's still some decisions about some of the specialty classes about where we're going to go and move people around for that,” Aiken said, “but for the regular education teachers merging the core classes together, our teachers from Rogers will come in and our teachers from Jeffery will come in and the teachers will remain.”

Rogers Principal Cynthia Foht will head Scott Primary; Jeffery interim principal JoAnne Townsend's role is undetermined.

Foht said teachers from both schools will collaborate to establish Scott Primary procedures.

“We're going to have to think about our kids and what would make it kid-friendly and go from there. So we have a lot of planning but we have a lot of great people to work with, so we're very excited.”

She also said both parent-teacher organizations are in the planning process with the groups cooperating on a recent car cruise that raised funds for the new school.

To view slides from the meeting, weekly construction updates and a live video stream of the project, visit http://www.sasd.k12.pa.us/NewSchoolConstruction.aspx

Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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