Share This Page

Financial report key to project in West Jefferson Hills district

| 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 www.wjhsd.net.

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

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.