Connellsville Area High School rework nearly finished

| Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 12:36 a.m.

The approximately $41 million renovation project at Connellsville Area High School will be about 95 percent complete when students begin classes on Monday.

The first thing students, staff and visitors will find when they arrive is that entry will be restricted to one entrance, said Nick Bosnic, high school principal.

“Not everyone will be certain where they are going, said Bosnic, adding that extra staff will have to be available to direct the incoming students. “It has changed a lot. Everyone's going to enter one area, whether it's from buses, student drivers, staff. … All are going to go in one direction now.”

The project, started in 2011, will offer students an enhanced learning environment while providing the district with a facility that is more environmentally friendly.

According to John Pappas, Eckles construction manager, there are many features that will make the building more energy efficient as well as more comfortable. The two large HVAC systems that used to heat and cool the building from the rooftop have been removed. Those systems provided overall control in the building but did not allow for much local control.

A heat pump system replaced the older system. It allows teachers to control the settings in individual classrooms.

The lighting systems will turn themselves off when not needed. A new lighting system made up of high-intensity fluorescent lights, coupled with more exterior widows, means a more energy-efficient system.

“(It will be) really nice to have, because lights go off and on according to usage,” Bosnic said. “During certain parts of the day, they kind of run themselves.”

Pappas said a computer control system monitors conditions in the building. Carbon dioxide sensors control how often and how much air is circulated. If areas are not in use, the heating or cooling need is reduced and the system responds. If areas are not in use, there is a reduced need to draw in more outside air, which must be heated or cooled. Energy is saved.

Pappas also pointed out that all of the restroom plumbing has been replaced with low-flow, automatic flushing systems.

“We're excited to start the school year,” said Adrianne Jordan-Egnot, library media specialist. “(Even with construction continuing) we are going to try, certainly, to provide a high level of education to the students. I feel the students will take a lot of pride in this new facility.”

The library is divided into sections, which will allow groups of students to be handled at the same time. Jordan-Egnot will have systems to provide information and instruction to student groups, using her iPad to control them on large-screen televisions.

Volleyball coach Casey O'Brien had his team working out in the auxiliary gymnasium on Friday morning.

“This is great,” he said. “It will allow us to work inside. (The football team members) will be able to work on their pass routes in this auxiliary gym.”

His volleyball team members will get more experience by being able to play in club competition. He said the auxiliary gymnasium has been used since the end of the last school year.

O'Brien said the facilities will allow the school's athletic programs to compete against the high level schools.

Work on the floor in the main gymnasium was continuing on Friday morning. Pappas said work on areas like the main gymnasium was delayed because of adverse weather conditions.

“It was hot, then it got cold, then rainy,” Pappas said.

While tech-ed areas were still not completed, they will come into use once the heavy equipment is moved in and installed.

Another area that has not been completed is the swimming pool. The pool had to be modified to meet WPIAL standards, including the slope of the bottom from the shallow to the deep areas. Pappas said it may be ready in another month.

The new construction is reducing the need to drain water away from the building during wet weather. A large retention pond in front of the building captures runoff and holds it. Pappas said the water then drains slowly through a layer of stone and into the ground.

Paving around the building is also porous, allowing water to drain into the ground, rather than run off into a sewage system.

Waste materials from the construction, which would normally end up in a landfill, are recycled. This includes waste wood and metals.

According to Pappas, schools have begun to build using the energy-efficient and environmentally friendly fixtures over just the past five years.

The energy savings system should end up with approximately $1 million in rebates from the state. Jeff Straub project architect with Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates, said it would take more time to get the money back, since the process is “long-term.”

“At this time we do anticipate they will be getting it back,” he said during a phone conversation on Friday.

Bosnic said the work will continue for “a few weeks” into the school year.

“Some finishing work is still to be done,” he said. “They will come back to redo or finish up flooring, tile and painting. They come in on different shifts so the education process is not really affected by them.”

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-626-3538.

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