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Plum school board considers Center Elementary changes

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Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, 8:58 p.m.

The Center Elementary gymnasium floor fix is shaping up to be a summer project.

Plum School District Superintendent Timothy Glasspool told school board members that the district's engineer is reviewing blueprints of the floor area that will assist in drawing up specifications for the job so contractors can submit bids for the work that could cost between $50,000 and $100,000.

Arnie Caffas, president of Pennsylvania Soil and Rock in Monroeville, the district's engineer, in November said the problem appears to be caused by breaks in an underground pipe that is resulting in water escaping into backfill or dirt around the pipe.

Caffas, who is reviewing videotapes from inside the piping, said the water appears to be eroding the dirt around the pipe and causing a portion of the floor at the edge of the gym where it meets the restrooms to settle.

“We saw three breaks in a pipe,” Caffas said last month. “It could be confined to a small area. Until we open up (the floor), we won't be able to tell.”

District business Manager Eugene Marraccini said part of the problem appears to have occurred 10 years ago, when the school was renovated.

“Ten years ago, when the addition was put on, a truck went over the pipes and crushed them,” Marraccini said.

Marraccini said a portion of the work is expected to be covered by the district's insurance after the deductible is paid.

Caffas said the work is expected to take about two to three weeks.

Principal Jeff Hadley said students continue to have physical education class and other activities in the gymnasium.

He said the only visible problem is hairline cracks in the tile-floor area where the water problem is occurring.

“There's no safety concern,” Hadley said.

In other news concerning Center, board member Sal Colella said he would like air conditioning to be installed in the building for the next school year.

Dennis Russo, the district's construction consultant, said the estimated cost of installing air conditioning in the building is $400,000.

Other board members didn't endorse Colella's idea.

“We're talking about renovating Center,” board member Kevin Dowdell said. “We shouldn't do air conditioning now.”

Colella countered that he favors cooling the building now.

“We have the opportunity to do something in the interim (before a potential renovation project) to keep our capital projects moving forward,” Colella said. “It would be a better educational environment for a couple years.”

Plum High School and the new Pivik Elementary School have air conditioning throughout the buildings. The other four school buildings do not have central air conditioning.

Russo said an air conditioning unit can be sized to accommodate a building addition.

Board President Andrew Drake said installing air conditioning in the building is premature.

“Is it economical to do it?” Drake asked. “Some houses have two systems. If we put on an addition, it may be cheaper (to install) an independent system (for the addition).”

Board member Shane McMasters, who chairs the facilities committee, also advised against installing air conditioning.

“We should wait until we have a better understanding of our structural facilities plan for the next five to 10 years,” McMasters said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or

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