| Neighborhoods

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

Financial report key to project in West Jefferson Hills district

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.

Thursday, March 21, 2013, 11:33 a.m.

A review of West Jefferson Hills School District's finances will help board members determine how to proceed with a high school modernization project.

A report from financial consultant Patrick Sable, hired last month to review funding options for district construction projects, should be complete by early April, board members said Tuesday.

The report will determine if the district can build a new high school by restructuring its finances or if it will be required to seek voters' permission, through referendum, to raise taxes above the Pennsylvania Department of Education-issued index, board President Anthony Angotti said.

“That report is critical,” Angotti said. “Let's face it, no matter what option we choose, it's going to cost money. We're trying to look at all of the alternatives and all of the options that we could be faced with.”

School board members and district administrators, architects and engineers spent the last several weeks ranking a list of options for the construction of a new high school and ways to address potential growth in the elementary schools, said district architect Ryan Pierce, president of JC Pierce LLC. This was done as part of the district's facilities master plan — or blueprint for the future — that is under way.

Each option was evaluated as to how well it met the eight strategic goals for the district that were assembled from public input.

An option to construct a high school on a newly acquired 151-acre lot on Old Clairton Road for $74.6 million received the highest ranking, with nearly double the score of any other option from district officials and representatives from JC Pierce.

“This one was a blowout,” Pierce said. “Consistently across the board, this option seems to meet the strategic goals.”

Construction of a high school on this site would take 24 months and would not cause disruptions to classroom learning at the current high school.

District officials plan to close on the $1,075,000 property purchase on Thursday, Angotti said.

An option to completely overhaul the current high school for $63.6 million is “not considered viable,” Pierce said. The project would disrupt learning, as students would be in trailers for nearly four years, he said.

Another option to construct a new school on the high school site is not “a good value for your money,” costing as much as $77.5 million.

All of the costs assume the district will not receive any reimbursements from the state for construction, as the PlanCon project is in moratorium, officials said.

While all district schools are within capacity, officials also ranked options for how to handle potential future growth.

Board members could vote to finalize the ranking as early as next week, Pierce said. The facilities master plan will be available for adoption in April.

For more on the rankings, visit

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

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read South Hills

  1. Brentwood’s Noctis racing team makes final push for trip
  2. Baldwin settles lawsuit for $7,500
  3. Baldwin Community Day to have something for everyone
  4. Baldwin Borough woman awarded $5K for damages to apartment
  5. Overgrown trees leave Brentwood residents frustrated
  6. MRTSA staff able to train the ‘smart’ way with simulator
  7. Baldwin Borough pool closes for repairs, residents may use Brentwood pool