West Jefferson Hills school board gives update on Gill Hall construction
Gill Hall Elementary School and its upgraded cafeteria will be ready for students when they return for the 2019-20 school year on Aug. 26, according to construction managers.
However, the construction on the new 10-classroom addition wing and added parent-turnaround drop off lot will continue into September.
“The building as the kids left it last year will be done,” Superintendent Michael Ghilani said. “There will be new furniture in the cafeteria. The cafeteria expansion project will be done.”
False rumors swirled throughout the community in recent weeks regarding the completion of the cafeteria and kitchen area, Ghilani said. To address this, he sent a letter to Gill Hall parents regarding the building’s status on July 30.
Jon Thomas, principal and co-owner of Thomas & Williamson, the construction manager for the project, presented an update to school board members on July 31, providing a detailed timeline of completion for the cafeteria. The timeline indicates various installations will occur through Aug. 16 and the startup and testing of cafeteria equipment will be done on Aug. 19 and 20. A health department inspection will be done on Aug. 21.
Kitchen staff will be trained Aug. 22 or 23.
“We see this as doable,” he said. “There’s a lot to do.”
The $6.3 million Gill Hall expansion project addresses growth to the district’s population. Gill Hall will go from a capacity of about 300 students to 500 students with the additions, Ghilani said. The project included expansion of the cafeteria and kitchen to accommodate the growth.
Ghilani said there never was an issue from the district’s end regarding the completion of those spaces.
After an original delay in the spring with local permitting, it was known the added wing would not be ready for the beginning of school, he said in his letter.
The biggest challenge with the project, he said following the July 31 board meeting, has been getting unit ventilators that help to circulate the air. The manufacturer’s plant was flooded and the unit ventilators for 10 classrooms in the main school are supposed to be shipped on Aug. 30.
Other unit ventilators will be hooked up temporarily in their place and once the permanent ones arrive, they will be swapped out after school hours.
Ghilani cautioned that the school will look “less than perfect,” as this occurs.
Classrooms scheduled to use the new wing will start out the school year in the original part of the building and transition to the new wing once it’s ready, he said.
With this being the first year the district is transitioning new kindergarten classes into Gill Hall, the building is just at capacity without the new wing addition, Ghilani said. There will be a few extra classrooms this year, as the building is prepared for future growth.
Teachers whose classrooms are scheduled for the new wing already have been prepared.
The upgraded playground’s completion will be “hit or miss” at the very beginning of the year, Ghilani said. The front parking lot, where more spaces are being added and the circle is being removed, will be done for the start of school. However, the rear parent turn-around lot won’t be ready until sometime in September.