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Plum School District to consider districtwide safety audit

| Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, 9:18 p.m.

Plum school leaders plan to explore the cost and feasibility of conducting a districtwide safety audit.

Superintendent Timothy Glasspool suggested during a Safe & Supportive Schools committee meeting Tuesday that the district ask private companies to submit proposals to complete the audit.

“This is an easy thing for us to do,” he said.

Board members were interested in the idea and agreed to move the item to the Feb. 23 board meeting for approval.

“I like the idea of seeing what we're lacking,” board member Sue Caldwell said.

The emphasis on student safety has heightened in the past year since police arrested three Plum High School teachers on charges of having sex with students. The teachers await trial on the charges and an Allegheny County grand jury is finishing its investigation of the district's handling of the events.

Board member Michelle Stepnick said that an audit would help the district identify its safety needs.

A study could help shape the job description of a proposed safety coordinator position, board members said.

The board has not approved the creation of safety coordinator position or its job description, but plan to vote on the creation of the position Feb. 23.

The Plum School Board during a separate meeting Tuesday hired an architectural firm that will help the district explore options for the halted Regency Park Elementary project.

The board voted 8-0 to hire VEBH Architects, which will evaluate the district's enrollment, its ability to expand and its current facilities. Board member Rich Zucco was absent.

Mt. Lebanon-based VEBH Architects will charge the district no more than $8,500 for the study, which is expected to take several months.

The debate over whether to renovate Regency Park Elementary, build a new Regency Park school building or eliminate the school and send students elsewhere was the catalyst for the study.

The district had planned to build a Regency Park building until December, when the new school board halted the project, citing low enrollment and cost.

The Regency Park building on Millers Lane enrolled about 200 students until it closed at the end of the 2014-15 school year. It is now empty. Students and staff have been moved indefinitely to the former Holiday Park Elementary School.

The cost of a new school was estimated to be $11.3 million. The cost to renovate the building was estimated to be $11.1 million. The previous board had set a maximum building cost of $9.2 million and capped the project cost at $13.6 million.

Glasspool said a study done in 2008 showed that many parts of the Regency Park school, including the roof and heating and cooling systems, were determined to be at “end of life” and out of date.

Kelsey Shea is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. She can be reached at 412-320-7845 or kshea@tribweb.com.

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