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Mt. Lebanon School Board to mull $1.6M for renovations

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Mt. Lebanon School Board will consider a proposed $1.6 million capital projects budget this month that includes desks, cafeteria tables, stage curtains, a theater sound system and a large trophy case that were left out of the $109.65 million high school renovation project.

Board President Elaine Cappucci emphasized that the items weren't left out of the renovation budget to avoid hitting the district's borrowing limit or triggering a referendum on the project.

Items such as the furniture, curtains and sound system had been ready for replacement before the renovations began 25 months ago. But the purchases were postponed until after the construction so they could go into the new spaces, and were left out of the high school project budget to slightly reduce the amount the district had to borrow, she said.

“The money is here in the district; we figured it was wiser to use that rather than borrow additionally,” Cappucci said.

Board member Scott Goldman asked why the main auditorium's stage curtains and sound system were part of the capital budget, but new seats for the now-gutted auditorium were part of the renovation budget. Superintendent Timothy Steinhauer said the curtains and sound system must be replaced every few years, while the seats were a long-term investment more appropriate to be financed through a 15-year bond issue.

Other items on the list included a new dump truck for plowing, salting, hauling materials and field maintenance; $5,000 to repair a restroom wall that's buckling from a water leak; and about $400,000 for “repeaters” that would extend indoor cellular phone reception to parts of district buildings that get little or no service.

“It could be a safety issue,” Steinhauer said. “We still have some (wired) telephones ... but our community, our staff, everybody carries cellphones.”

The list included about $75,000 for a trophy case to be installed in the athletic wing to house trophies and photographs currently kept in storage off-site. However, Cappucci noted that the district was exploring whether that could be funded with donations.

All told, the capital budget list totaled about $1.6 million out of the district's $5.6 million capital projects fund, said Finance Director Jan Klein. Another $5 million in reserves from the operating budget could be transferred to the capital budget if the district wanted to fund more projects, she said.

Board members discussed the 85-item capital budget on Monday and about 20 items were removed from proposed funding this year. The board is scheduled to vote on it Feb. 24.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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