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Carnegie and Crafton elementary schools in line for upgrades

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:27 p.m.

Carnegie and Crafton elementary schools should see some improvements this summer.

The Carlynton Board of Education cleared the way for project manager Jon Thomas to submit requests for proposals for several renovation priorities at its meeting Feb. 7.

The priorities include electrical, heating and air conditioning upgrades, as well as security improvements at the elementary schools.

Thomas, president and co-founder of construction management firm Thomas and Williamson, said engineering firms now will submit design proposals for the project. After designs are approved, the bidding process would begin for contractors.

While Thomas said the district has a “loose timeline,” the plan is to have some upgrades in place by the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.

“I'm sure we'll all get together with (bidding firms) and grill them to make sure that they understand this is a pretty quickly moving thing,” he said.

At the elementary schools, the electrical upgrades — including a new switchboard and transformer — would need to happen before the heating and cooling upgrades, Thomas said. He expects both the electrical and cooling upgrades to happen over the summer.

Thomas estimated the costs for the electrical, heating and air conditioning improvements would be about $2.7 million at Carnegie Elementary and nearly $2 million at Crafton Elementary. Those aren't actual bid costs, however, and miscellaneous costs such as architects' fees and permits would likely push the cost higher.

Security upgrades Thomas outlined included creating a captured vestibule at the elementary schools along with improving exterior doors and frames and installing security cameras.

Thomas estimated those security improvements would cost about $517,000 at Carnegie Elementary and $242,000 at Crafton Elementary.

Those security costs didn't include the potential for moving the offices at both schools, which Thomas recommends for safety but would require the shifting of several other rooms and a higher overall cost.

“If we put (the captured vestibule) in, we don't preclude ourselves from (moving the offices),” Thomas said. “Whether we do it now or not is what we have to continue talking about.”

The question about whether to wait to move the offices comes because of uncertainty over PlanCon, a state program that partially reimburses districts for renovations projects. The state froze new applications for the project after Oct. 1, 2012, and the program will be re-evaluated later this year.

“I don't want to see this getting bigger than it needs to be if in fact there is reimbursement money available for a larger project,” board member Ray Walkowiak said.

In addition to approving the first requests for approval, the board will ask Thomas to create RFPs for five more renovation priorities, including creating a captured vestibule at Carlynton Junior/Senior High School, installing a key-card or other electronic access system at exterior doors and replacing the high school track.

Board President David Roussos said the high school hasn't hosted a track and field meet in several years because of the poor condition of the current track.

“I think that the track team does practice down there, but it is in atrocious shape,” Roussos said. “It borders on unsafe.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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