$6.3 million expansion of Gill Hall Elementary set to begin
Construction on a 10-classroom addition at Gill Hall Elementary School needed to meet the needs of the booming West Jefferson Hills School District likely will begin in May.
School board members April 23 awarded contracts to six companies for the project, totaling $6.3 million.
“We’re ready to get going,” said Matthew Patterson, assistant to the superintendent for elementary education. “We’re excited about it.”
The Gill Hall expansion project will include the addition of 10 full-size classrooms, a faculty room, a flexible learning space and an expanded cafeteria. Changes also will be made to the parking lot and a designated drop-off/pick-up area will be added to separate car rider and bus traffic. This will increase safety at dismissal time, Patterson said.
The project is “phase II” of reconfiguration of the district’s three elementary schools that took place at the start of the 2018-19 school year.
A 2017 demographic study indicated the district was quickly growing. This led leaders to turn McClellan and Gill Hall elementary schools into kindergarten through second-grade only schools. Jefferson Elementary became Jefferson Hills Intermediate School and now houses all third- through fifth- graders in the district.
All three schools up until 2018-19 were kindergarten through fifth-grade buildings.
The Gill Hall addition was planned as the second part of the elementary reconfiguration.
“We need it now,” Superintendent Michael Ghilani said.
The district’s population of kindergarten through fifth-grade students is growing faster than any of the previous demographic studies indicated as the highest rate of growth, Patterson said. Currently, there are about 80 more students from K-5 than were originally planned for, he said.
Contractors will break ground on the Gill Hall expansion once all approvals are received from Jefferson Hills Borough, Patterson said. That is supposed to happen in May.
Bids were awarded to DiMarco Construction Co. to serve as the general contractor for nearly $3 million; HMAK LLC was awarded the food service equipment construction contract for $239,000; Interstate Protection Co. was awarded the fire protection construction contract for $165,000; Vrabel Plumbing Co., LLC was awarded the plumbing construction contract for $509,200; Weider Services, LLC was awarded the HVAC construction contract for roughly $1.4 million, plus a $284,000 addition; and Vern’s Electric, Inc. was awarded the electrical construction contract for $747,939.
Contractors say they still think they can get the project done by the start of the 2019-20 school year, Ghilani said. However, he cautioned that that might not happen.
Once the addition is complete, the district plans to start transitioning kindergartners from the Hunters Field neighborhood to Gill Hall, to avoid potential overcrowding at McClellan. These would be students who never attended school yet in the district.
“As they’re coming into the system, we want to gradually move them into Gill Hall,” Patterson said.
With the reconfiguration, the district has aimed to not move a student more than once.
“We’re going to look at it student by student,” Patterson said.