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West Jefferson Hills district schools all within capacity

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West Jefferson Hills School District officials should evaluate building capacity needs and look at redistricting options every five years, the district architect recommended.

All five district schools currently are operating within capacity, district architect Ryan Pierce said. A redistricting that brought nearly 60 students from Gill Hall to McClellan Elementary School this year balanced enrollment for now, Pierce said.

“It's been asked in many of the forums that we've participated in, ‘What's the plan going forward?' They're still building houses in this community. What happens if there's a lot of growth? How would we address it?” Pierce said.

District officials are staying mindful of the continued growth and additional housing being constructed in the Jefferson Hills area, Pierce said. With the current enrollment of 1,229 total students, the elementary schools could handle an additional 118 students split between them, Pierce said. Pleasant Hills Middle School, with an enrollment of 668, could handle an additional 88 students in the building, while Thomas Jefferson High School, with 901 students, could hold 107 more students.

If there was a 10 percent growth in the district at the elementary level, then additional space would be needed, Pierce said. However, this would exceed current growth at nearly all Allegheny County school district, he said.

This is a “worst-case scenario,” Pierce said.

Options to address potential growth include additions at Gill Hall and Jefferson elementary schools and a redistricting of the feeder patterns; a large addition at Jefferson Elementary and redistricting of all elementary students; realigning grade structures to move fifth-graders to the middle school; or an overall realignment of grading in the district where the elementary schools would hold kindergarten through fourth grade, the middle school would have students from fifth to seventh grade and the high school would be from eighth to 12th grades.

There are pros and cons to each option, Pierce said. Yet, any project is likely years away, he said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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