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Money kept out of South Fayette school expansion talks

| Friday, July 18, 2014, 5:42 p.m.

South Fayette school officials met again with architects last week to discuss potential expansion and renovations at the high school, but continued to keep financial information out of the discussion.

The district is mulling expansion options that could add up to 47,000 square feet of space to the high school, including 23 new classrooms – a 59 percent increase in classroom space – and expanding the cafeteria and commons area.

The board has yet to cast an official vote on the project, but have been working with Eckles Architecture and construction firm PJ Dick to explore the feasibility and potential costs of such a project.

The expansion exploration comes after a February demographic study showed that the high school could hit capacity by 2016 – around 800 students.

Other potential items on the to-do list could include track resurfacing and turf replacement, security camera additions, carpet replacement, paving repairs, stage floor replacement and expansion of the wrestling area.

The district has refused to release potential costs associated with the possible expansion scenarios, and a Right to Know request submitted by the Tribune-Review for the figures was denied.

Resident Natalie Cooper spoke against the board's decision to keep cost information from the public.

“I don't know why this is such a deep, dark secret,” Cooper said. “Quite frankly, as a taxpayer and a parent and a resident … I don't feel like I have to even complete a Right to Know request to get that information. I fill out a Right to Know request at the end of every August when I pay my taxes.”

Cooper said the district was not as secretive in 2008, when it began studying planning for the eventual construction of the intermediate school.

Board policy states that board members do not respond to public comment or answer questions posed during the commenting portion of meetings.

Board members went directly into executive session following the regular meeting.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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