Belle Vernon School Board postpones action on bond issue

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Belle Vernon School Board voted unanimously Monday to postpone action on a $4 million bond issue, part of which would have been used to reimburse the district for capital expenditures on projects undertaken prior to their issuance.

President Lou Rood said the vote to remove the items from the agenda isn’t meant to stop the board from pursuing improvements in the district, but just to “put the brakes on” until more information is gathered.

“We are still committed to making improvements that need to be made, but we wanted to look at OpTerra and what they could offer us since they’ve already done quite a bit of work for us to add savings to the district,” Rood said.

Rood said district officials have been pleased with work done by OpTerra Energy Services Inc., which has completed a range of energy-saving renovations throughout the district under a government-sponsored program, most recently a multimillion dollar building renovation that included new heating and air conditioning systems, new windows and LED lighting.

“We’re trying to make an educated decision by having as much information as possible available so we can make a good decision financially and in other areas for the district,” Rood said.

Rood said rather than spending taxpayer money on another company, it is worth looking into what OpTerra can offer the district in savings.

The board also approved a quote from Tremco to fix a portion of the roof at Rostraver Middle School at a cost of $171,287.

“Right now, we have a situation down there where we put the new locker room in and the roof is leaking and we’re getting some leakage coming down into the locker room, so it’s imperative that we replace that part of the roof or patch it up immediately,” Rood said. He said the leak developed after the recent heavy rains from the tropical storm over the last few weeks.

The board unanimously approved a quotation from CWM Environmental for lead and bacterial testing of drinking water for the district’s seven buildings at a cost of $4,116. Superintendent Michele Dowell said Pennsylvania is in the process of passing legislation that would require schools to test for lead in drinking water every two years.

“We decided to get ahead of the game and make sure that we are where we need to be, being proactive instead of reactive,” she said.

The board also voted to undertake an appraisal to determine the value of the Monongahela Valley Healthplex. “We are splitting (the cost) with Rostraver Township and Westmoreland County because (the healthplex) asked for an exemption that we did not agree with, so we are in the process of trying to fight that so that we can get the school tax dollars that we need,” Dowell said.


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