Canon-McMillan moves forward with middle school plan

August 11, 2014
A survey, provided by HHSDR Architects, shows the conceptual site plan for a new middle school on Route 519 in Canon-McMillan School District. - Emily Petsko / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Canon-McMillan School District is moving forward with plans to construct a new middle school. During a special board meeting Monday, school directors authorized the district to apply for project reimbursement through the Department of Education’s PlanCon process.

And it couldn’t come at a better time, said Assistant Superintendent Scott Chambers. Since June, 77 new students enrolled in district schools. Chambers said that figure hovered around 50 last summer.

The district unveiled a three-phase plan to construct new elementary, middle and high schools in order to accommodate the population growth, coupled with the short-term solution of redistricting. The elementary school project is the district’s top priority, and it will be constructed on land next to the current Muse Elementary School.

But Chambers said the district wants to get the ball rolling on other phases, adding he “will continue to push for all of our phases to be complete in as timely a fashion as possible.”

Board members approved a purchase and sales agreement for 27 acres of property owned by LSREF2 Baron LLC on Route 519, across from Sedeca Road, for the new middle school. The district has not yet closed on the deal, but can do so once the PlanCon application has been processed.

The property, which has an abandoned home and abandoned mine on-site, would cost the district about $1,250,000 to acquire. The total estimated cost – including tap-in sewage fees, tree clearing, demolition, grading and other necessary work – is about $9,175,000.

In comparison, the site on Route 519 costs significantly less than another site the district was considering – the former Alexander’s Athletic Club on Washington Road – but in total costs about $650,000 more than a site on Cecil-Henderson Road.

According to architect J. Greer Hayden, of HHSDR Architects, the Cecil-Henderson property is not a central location and does not have convenient access in the district. Hayden said the Route 519 site needs some work, but it is in close proximity to the high school and has sufficient space for expansion.

The current middle school, which holds grades seven and eight, is 47 years old. Hayden said it has been rated in poor condition and would need a host of upgrades, including masonry repairs, mechanical plumbing, electrical replacements and security improvements.

The new middle school, projected to open in 2018, would also hold about a thousand students in grades seven and eight, but the acreage would increase more than fivefold.

Chambers said this will allow for ample parking, athletic facilities and “space to grow.” In the meantime, Chambers said Hayden is working on a schematic design for the elementary school project, which will replace Muse, Cecil and First Street elementary schools.

In the fall, Chambers said a committee to discuss what those elementary school spaces should look like will expand to include board members, district employees and staff.

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

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