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Architect hired to oversee elementary renovations

| Thursday, Aug. 3, 2006

The Moon Area School Board has hired an architect to oversee renovations to McCormick Elementary School.

Officials hope to reopen the vacant Beaver Grade grade school by fall 2007. Upper St. Clair-based Hayes Design Group Architects will oversee the work and will be paid 6.25 percent of construction costs as its fee and an additional 0.5 percent if the school opens by next fall.

US Airways rented McCormick for use as a training center for about 15 years before pulling out in November 2004.

Hayes will oversee renovations to McCormick's "sister" schools, Allard and Hyde elementary schools, which were built around the same time about 35 years ago and have similar floor plans.

All three schools offer advantages, such as terrazzo floors and glazed concrete block walls, which are long-lasting and might not need to be replaced, said Kevin Hayes, of Hayes Design. But new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems in all three schools will have to be installed. The current systems are "at or beyond their useful life," Hayes said.

All three schools will be renovated to include security systems that were not as much of an issue decades ago and will be reconfigured to have separate bus and car traffic patterns, Hayes said.

Although the reopening of McCormick will mean the school board will have to redistrict students, Hayes said it would reduce class size and thereby enable teachers to identify and help rectify learning problems sooner.

Hayes will not be involved with plans to build a new middle school and renovate the high school, board President Mark Limbruner said.

The board terminated contracts with N. John Cunzolo & Associates Inc., of Bellevue, and Foreman Architects Engineers Inc., of Zelienople. The previous board had retained the two firms to oversee design and construction of a new high school. The current board, which took office in December, ended the project before construction began.

N. John Cunzolo, head of the firm that bears his name, declined to comment on whether his firm might seek legal recourse. He would not say how much of a financial loss the contract termination would have on his company.

"It's a major consideration, the fact they can't seem to work together, these factions" on the school board, Cunzolo said.

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