| Neighborhoods

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

North Hills Middle School will be last in district for cooldown

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Kirsten Bogniard's daughter sweats it out playing basketball at North Hills Middle School.

The heat caused by exertion is compounded by the eighth-grader playing in a gym in a school without air conditioning, said Bogniard, a Ross resident.

“It's extremely hot in there,” she said.

Most of the school in Ross will be cooled off in September 2015 when installation of a $7 million air conditioning system is complete, although the gym won't be air conditioned. The school, built in the late 1950s, is the last North Hills school to get air conditioning, said David Hall, the district's director of finance and operations.

It's rare for schools in the Northeast not to have air conditioning, said Irene Nigaglioni, chairwoman of the Council of Educational Facility Planners International in Scottsdale, Ariz., and a partner at PBK Architects in Dallas.

Of 308 Pennsylvania school districts and other educational entities that responded to a survey about the 2007-08 school year, 41 percent reported having air conditioning building-wide, 44 percent had limited areas of air conditioning, and 15 percent had no air conditioning, according to the state Department of Education.

“It's an expectation now, I believe. I mean, almost any public building you go in now has air conditioning,” said Bogniard, whose 10-year-old son will be a student at the middle school when the project is done.

In 1998, the district began renovating its schools, none of which had air conditioning, Hall said. In 2005, it began adding air conditioning, starting with the high school.

“So that has been our intention and heavily discussed and promised to everybody through our whole facility renovation program that's been going on since the early 2000s,” he said.

Adding an air-conditioning system to a school is an expensive, invasive undertaking, Hall said.

“It's a major project that includes big water chiller units, running piping through the buildings, replacing all the unit ventilation in every classroom,” he said.

The middle school work will include installation of security cameras in the building and parking areas, replacement of flooring in some classrooms, the addition of a security entrance and mitigation of radon, he said.

The work, including the air conditioning system, will cost about $8 million, Hall said. The work starts in May.

At its meeting Monday, the school board approved awarding a construction management contract to Thomas & Williamson Program Management in Ross.

The work is being paid for with savings accrued over several years and proceeds from the sales of two former schools: Northway Elementary School, sold for $2.6 million in July, and Perrysville Elementary School, sold for $630,000 in January 2012, Hall said.

A lack of air conditioning in a school can do more than make students uncomfortable. It can affect students' academic performance, experts said.

Thermal comfort, ventilation and good indoor air quality are critical to establishing an optimal classroom environment, Nigaglioni said.

“It's the same as the workplace because it's going to affect the way people work,” she said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read North Hills

  1. Northland Public Library reaches out to communities
  2. North Hills grad earns ‘principal of the year’ honor
  3. Developer of proposed Ross housing plan sues diocese
  4. Workshop to shed light on using solar power in Ross
  5. Pine charity gives adaptive bikes to kids with disabilities
  6. Shaler grad on mission to offer support with food truck
  7. Retired Richland physician celebrates 90th birthday by skydiving for 1st time
  8. Pittsburgh Youth Chorus training programs have openings in Hampton, Upper St. Clair
  9. New entrances aim to make Hampton schools safer
  10. Rain doesn’t delay replacement of Pine-Richland track
  11. Daughter of Hampton cancer victim raises funds to help others