Gill Hall addition expected to be complete by start of next school year |
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A 10-classroom addition at Gill Hall Elementary School in the West Jefferson Hills School District should be completed by the start of the 2019-20 school year, leaders say.

The 14,350-square-foot addition also will include a new flexible learning space, updates to the cafeteria and a new playground. Changes also will be made to the parking lot, including adding a designated 40-car drop-off/pick-up area, which keeps vehicular traffic separate from buses.

West Jefferson Hills school board members held a public hearing Dec. 4, under state Act 34 requirements, to update the community on the project.

The maximum project cost presented was nearly $9.3 million. However, Jon Thomas, president of Thomas & Williamson Project Management, said the anticipated budget for the project is lower, at roughly $7.3 million.

“We’re not looking at spending the maximum that the state would allow us to spend,” he said.

The Gill Hill addition comes on the tail of a reconfiguration of the district’s three elementary schools at the start of 2018-19.

Following a 2017 demographic study indicating the district was quickly growing, leaders opted to turn McClellan — which was at capacity — and Gill Hall elementaries into kindergarten through second grade only schools. Jefferson Elementary became Jefferson Hills Intermediate School and now houses all third- through fifth-graders in the district.

The change also required the 10-classroom addition at Gill Hall to meet the district’s growing needs.

Plans are to go out for bids on the project in January, Superintendent Michael Ghilani said. Construction, then, would start late winter and the project would be wrapped up by the start of the 2019-20 school year, he said.

“We’ve been meeting regularly. The planning has gone well,” Ghilani said.

The district currently is finalizing some of the design work on the project to ensure the new part of the building matches the old. Some low-cost aesthetic updates to the old building are being explored, Ghilani said.

Also included in the project is a new heating and cooling system, which will air condition the entire school.

Board members on Dec. 4 also approved traffic engineering services for the project from David E. Wooster & Associates Inc. in an amount not to exceed $6,675.

Upon the completion of the Gill Hall addition, district leaders next will look at Jefferson. The timeframe on that project remains uncertain.

The demographic study indicated the most students at the school this year would be 696, yet there are 725 students there today due to district growth, Ghilani said.

“There’s a lot of things that are outdated at Jefferson. So, it’s not just adding classrooms, it’s doing an overall building renovation, as well,” he said. “Those are more in our long-term planning. Just how long-term, we’ll have to see.”

The district’s growth could dictate that.

“We’re growing quicker than even the quickest estimates,” Ghilani said.

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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