ShareThis Page
New Latrobe elementary won’t be ready for school year |

New Latrobe elementary won’t be ready for school year

Jeff Himler

Greater Latrobe School District officials have confirmed the new Latrobe Elementary School, under construction for more than a year at Ligonier and Cedar streets, won’t be ready when students return to their studies on Aug. 27.

Superintendent Judith Swigart said in a Tuesday letter posted on the district website that students will continue to attend the existing elementary building, several blocks away on Ligonier Street, until the new school is ready.

“We will take ownership and move students to the new building when construction is complete,” she said in the letter. “Our hope is that this move will occur in late fall.”

Swigart’s letter doesn’t spell out the reason for the delay, noting only that “the construction schedule was aggressive” and “construction of a new school involves many factors.” She did not return a message left this week seeking comment on the progress of the $24.8 million construction project.

At a June 19 school board meeting, after district officials huddled in executive session with the project architect and the construction site manager, George Dickerson, Dickerson indicated that he wasn’t aware of any reason the new school wouldn’t open on time.

In a recent letter published in the Tribune-Review, Unity resident Greg Fumea said he’d overhead talk before that meeting about a leaking roof and cracked concrete in the new building. Other rumors have swirled about purported problems at the construction site.

School board member Heidi Kozar said Friday such rumors are unfounded.

“Construction has not gone as promptly or as quickly as we’d like, but there’s nothing wrong with the building,” she said. “There have been some delays in getting pieces of the building installed. That impacts everything down the road.”

She said she’d found the building “wonderful” and “frankly amazing” when she’d twice been inside it.

Kozar declined to discuss specifics about the construction delays, noting she felt uncomfortable doing so without checking with district Solicitor Ned Nakles. Nakles was away from his office Friday and was not available for comment.

School board member Michael O’Barto said he received a district letter about the building delay that indicated Greater Latrobe intends to consult with a construction attorney about the project. He said he could not confirm rumors of problems at the site and isn’t sure what’s causing the delay.

O’Barto said the district has not been transparent about the project.

“The public needs to know if there are problems,” he said. “We need to be proactive and try to get the construction done as efficiently as possible, and make sure when the children are able to go into the school that it’s complete and safe.”

The new two-story school is situated on a block also bordered by Lincoln Avenue and Cherry Street. It’s expected to accommodate about 800 students in grades K-6.

The district has agreed to sell the existing elementary building, much of which is more than 100 years old, to Latrobe-based Robindale Energy Services, for $450,000. The transaction was approved by Westmoreland County Judge Harry F. Smail Jr., with a closing date that had been planned for Sept. 1. The firm has said it wants to use the building as a new, larger headquarters.

Swigart said in her letter that the district is “working with the future owners of LES to extend our time there.”

“In the end, we know our new elementary school will be a district landmark for many years to come,” she said.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

The new Latrobe Elementary School is seen under construction on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, near the corner of Ligonier and Cedar streets in Latrobe.
Workers walk between construction equipment and a section of the new Latrobe Elementary School facing Cedar Street on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, in Latrobe.
Workers for Folino Construction prepare curbing at a site entrance along Cherry Street as part of the new Latrobe Elementary School construction on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, in Latrobe.
Construction crew members work atop a section of the new Latrobe Elementary School roof facing Cedar Street on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, in Latrobe.
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.