McKeesport Area breaks ground for its new Sixth Grade Academy
By Michael DiVittorio
Published: Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, 1:36 a.m.
McKeesport Area School District officials and project leaders on Friday broke ground on the new Sixth Grade Academy, also known as the Founders' Hall Annex, at Founders Hall Middle School.
Construction is projected to start by the end of the month and be completed by December 2014.
“It will be great having our sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders together and being a true middle school,” Superintendent Rula Skezas said.
Skezas said the new academy will have the latest classroom technology.
“It's going to be like a school within a school,” she said. “All of our sixth- through 12th-graders will be on one campus, which I think is great.”
Sixth-graders now attend classes at the former White Oak Elementary. They will be moved to the academy when it is completed.
Architect Ryan Pierce of JC Pierce LLC said the two-story academy on Eden Park Boulevard will be 45,000 square feet and have a basement.
It will contain 16 classrooms, one life-skills room, a large faculty space, a large group instruction room, a dedicated science lab, and two small group instruction rooms. The basement level will have a semi-finished wrestling practice room and locker rooms.
Total project costs are slightly less than $15 million, and include upgrades to the existing middle school.
Renovations will include air conditioning, corridor wall protection and construction of new locker rooms in the main gymnasium.
“This is a great day for us,” said project manager Joseph Brennan of PJ Dick Inc. “We're excited to get started. There's four great contractors, all of which I've worked with on previous projects. It's going to turn things around in this area. My understanding is McKeesport's trying to go through a revitalization, and this will be a good kick off, as well as the Twin Rivers project that we're working on.”
Twin Rivers Primary and Intermediate are the other new schools the district is building at 1600 and 1602 Cornell St. to consolidate elementary classes. They may be open by January.
Kindergartners through second-graders registered for the new elementary, including those from Versailles, now attend classes at the former Centennial Elementary School at 1601 Beaver St.
Third- through fifth-graders registered for the new intermediate school attend classes at the former George Washington School at 1818 Sumac St.
“When this program is complete, the district will have reduced its number of buildings dramatically, but will have newer upgraded space for all of the students in grades K-8,” Pierce said. “This is going to make the K-8 facilities for this district state of the art.”
School directors unanimously awarded bids for the Founders' Hall addition/renovation project in August.
Bids were awarded to Gurtner Construction for general construction at $8,685,000, A-1 Electric for electrical construction at $1,294,000, R&B Mechanical for mechanical construction at $3,510,000, and Wheels Mechanical for plumbing construction at $885,500.
The awards are subject to appropriate PlanCon approvals, the issuance of all applicable permits, compliance with Act 34 requirements and review by district solicitor Gary Matta.
PlanCon, or planning and construction workbook, is a set of forms and procedures used to apply for state reimbursement.
Act 34 requires that a public hearing be held on all new construction and substantial additions for second-, third- and fourth-class school districts. It applies only to costs for new construction, and the hearings are to inform the public of the proposed project.
The district had two Department of Education-required hearings for the academy. The second one was for a projected increase in project costs.
Skezas and school board president Patricia Maksin credited former superintendent Timothy Gabauer for moving the projects forward in lieu of an earlier plan to construct a third new school when talk of consolidation started in 2007.
“He felt that the next-best solution for us was to put an addition (at Founders' Hall) to accommodate our sixth grade,” Maksin said. “We could do our K-5 in the two (new) buildings in January. (Gabauer) was the one that spearheaded this. He and Dr. Skezas went round and round and made sure that it was feasible.”
Maksin said that brought the school directors on board.
“We knew this was going to be a much better solution than building a whole new building,” she said.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Elizabeth businesses expand despite traffic woes, road issues
- 40 McKeesport kids to go to summer camp for free
- Gubernatorial candidate Wolf touches base with McKeesport voters
- Duquesne man dies in crash
- McKeesport history center highlights women’s roles in Civil War
- Children present ‘Cinderella’ at Elizabeth theater
- McKeesport aerobic fundraiser for cystic fibrosis challenges attendees
- New McKeesport committee to focus on community issues
- Turnpike commission: Southern Beltway takes priority over Mon/Fayette plans
- License transfer paves way for new restaurant in McKeesport
- Matsuura’s Pinocchio adds to Disney ‘magic’ on ice