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Vincentian Academy looks at expansion plans

| Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Christopher Horner
The Vincentian Academy gymnasium is a small space lined with only three rows of bleachers. Administrators are preparing for a capital campaign to raise $16 million for upgrades to the school, including a new gymnasium, an auditorium and additional classroom space. In this file photo, Vincentian's Brenna Wise scores against the Ellis School during a game Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, in McCandless. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Students take an economics class at Vincentian Academy in McCandless on April 10, 2014.

About $16 million worth of capital improvements could be coming to Vincentian Academy in the next five years if the Catholic school in McCandless secures enough donor support.

Administrators are making plans for a capital campaign to raise money for new classrooms, a theater, a field house and new field turf, along with various updates to the current school.

Though no timetable is set, Kathy Lynch, the school's vice president of advancement, said the project would be done in phases, and administrators want to see the master plan completed in the next five years.

“We're in the very early stages of this master plan,” Lynch said.

The high school has about 270 students in grades nine through 12, and enrollment has risen steadily, Lynch said, but Vincentian will not enroll more than 300 students.

“That's what's unique about us. There's a strong family atmosphere,” Lynch said.

Vincentian marketing manager Tina Fedko said that administrators do not anticipate a decline in enrollment once Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School relocates from Troy Hill on Pittsburgh's North Side to Cranberry Township after this school year, because the schools greatly differ in size and many families desire the International Baccalaureate program Vincentian offers.

“The administration supports North Catholic strongly,” Fedko said. “We wish them so well up there in Cranberry.”

However, Lynch said, the opening of the new Cardinal Wuerl school is an inspiration to improve Vincentian.

“In order to keep up with the competition, we felt like we needed to update our building,” she said.

Vincentian's student body is small, but the building is smaller. Lynch said several classrooms are in trailers adjacent to the school.

Because of the need for more classroom space, Lynch said, a two-story addition with 10 classrooms would be the first priority. She estimates that it would cost about $3 million.

The field house, which would include a larger gymnasium, and a theater would be next, depending on donor support, and would cost $4 million to $5 million each.

The school does not have an auditorium on site.

Upgrades to the building, estimated to cost $4 million to $5 million, also are part of the master plan.

Lynch said the school's last major capital campaign was in the 1980s and that donors have been supportive in the past.

She said upgrades will be funded through donors and “won't necessarily” affect tuition, which is $11,000 a year.

Before the capital campaign starts, plans for the additions will have to be approved by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, who oversee the school. All construction and zoning changes also must be approved by McCandless Council.

Kelsey Shea is a staff writer at Trib Total Media. Reach her at kshea@tribweb.com or at 724-772-6353.

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