McKeesport Area delaying McClure opening until Monday

| Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011

Most of the approximately 3,850 McKeesport Area School District students are in their last day of summer vacation.

School opens Thursday at the high school, Founders Hall Middle School and Centennial, George Washington and White Oak elementary schools.

That covers kindergarten through third grade, most fourth-graders and seventh through 12th grades.

Several hundred students, including the remaining fourth-graders and all of the district's fifth- and sixth-graders will get a couple more days off, as MASD elected to delay the opening of a newly expanded Francis McClure Intermediate School in White Oak until Monday.

"The classrooms would have been available (Thursday)," said construction manager Gerald Tedesco. "But the superintendent thought it would be better just to give a couple extra days to the kids, to complete some odds and ends."

Tedesco reiterated what superintendent Dr. Timothy M. Gabauer told the McKeesport Area school board last week. As Gabauer reiterated on Tuesday, the district has put in enough time so that all students will meet state requirements for class attendance.

"We've got more than the necessary student hours," Gabauer said Tuesday as he visited McClure.

McClure eventually will have kindergarten through third grade in the wing built on the eastern side of the original intermediate school. The other part of the expansion is a community room on the other side of the original building that will be completed later this fall.

It is getting fourth-graders now because George Washington only can accommodate K-3. Centennial and White Oak will have K-4 classes.

"We have a more consistent distribution of the students (this fall)," Gabauer said.

Tedesco's company, Pennsylvania Project Management, is overseeing the work that will take place over the next several years on three elementary-intermediate complexes.

The next one, the new Cornell complex in McKeesport's Seventh Ward, is slated for student occupancy in the fall of 2013. The third one is likely to be built along the border between the city's Twelfth Ward and White Oak.

Not everything will be done at McClure even with a Monday opening date.

A stairwell with Terraza steps is being installed that will provide access to the second floor in the new portion of the McClure complex.

"We're going to have the first floor open and functional," Gabauer said.

Tedesco said a new playground and parking lot, as well as the second floor of the new wing, should be completed later this fall.

Work also still has to be done in the weeks ahead in the older portion of the McClure complex on a geothermal heating system.

Tedesco said it will allow the school to utilize a year-round 55-degree ground temperature, for naturally-cool classrooms in hotter months. Heat pumps need only raise that temperature by 15 degrees for colder months.

The outdoor siding also isn't done. Tedesco said a problem at the manufacturer with the treating of steel needed for that siding led to a backlog of orders.

Other MASD changes in the coming year include:

• A new assistant principal at McClure. Thomas R. Knight is moving from a similar role at Founders Hall to work with principal Pamela Gordon.

• Paul A. Sebelia giving up his role as roaming assistant principal at the three elementary schools to replace Knight as Founders Hall assistant.

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