West Greene receives update on projects

October 25, 2013

GRAYSVILLE – West Greene School Board received an update Thursday on the status of the construction of the new elementary center and was presented a list of items that remain to be completed on the middle-senior high renovation project.

Brian Henderson of the URS Corp., the district’s construction manager, reported excavation work for the elementary center is completed and work on the foundation and masonry is in progress.

Steel that will be used on the building’s substructure has been fabricated and is ready for delivery, he said. The project is about 18 days behind schedule; however, contractors have brought on additional workers and had crews work Saturdays to catch up, he said.

The elementary center is being constructed as a three-story addition to the middle-senior high school.

Henderson also presented the board with a list of 24 items of work that need to be completed on the junior-senior high renovation.

Some of the items were approved as change orders and included installing new tile or wood paneling and adding electronic valves to the heating and air conditioning system.

Others can be done in-house by district staff or later by outside contractors, Henderson said. This will allow the district to close out the contracts with the contractors that have completed their work, he said.

“Everything is pretty much on the down swing,” Superintendent Thelma Szarell said later about the school renovations. “There are just little things that need to be addressed.”

Some minor work still needs to be completed to allow the district to heat part of the building. Szarell said the contractor on that part of the project said the work should be completed next week. The district has been using space heaters in some rooms of the school, she said.

The board approved change orders totaling $88,965.84 for various contractors on the middle-senior high project. It also approved proposed change orders for work to be completed on the project not to exceed $33,609.98

The board also voted to approve an “action plan” with district architect, Hayes Design Group, to address issues the district had regarding renovations to the middle-senior high auditorium. Hayes has served as construction manager on the auditorium project.

The problems included painting and finishes and the use of seating different from what was approved by the board. Szarell said the board reached a compromise with Hayes on addressing the issues.

A parent, Melissa Gaso, asked the board about a student who reportedly threatened to kill other students and created a hit list but was later allowed to attend a school dance.

She said she believed the district was not taking such threats seriously. “Parents have a right to know that when their children walk into the building they are going to be safe,” she said.

Szarell said the district has a protocol it follows in such instances and in the case Gaso was speaking of the matter was investigated immediately. Some of the allegations against the student had been “blown up” through social media, she said.

However, the matter was investigated thoroughly and was addressed appropriately, Szarell said.

Gaso suggested the board consider hiring security guards for the schools, given the distance the district is from the closest police department. Board President Regina MacDowell said that would be something the board would consider.

The board voted to hire Kory Bissett as head varsity wrestling coach and Shawn Lohr as head varsity baseball coach. Matthew Cross was hired as head seventh- and eighth-grade boys basketball coach.

Business manager Shannon Rutan reported the district had received check for $186,170 from Vantage Energy for the oil and gas lease on the middle-senior high school property.

Bob Niedbala worked as a general assignment reporter for the newspaper for 27 years in the Greene County bureau. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

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