Architectural consultants have identified up to $121 million in potential improvements that could be made to buildings and grounds in the Greater Latrobe School District over the next decade.
But that assessment is only the starting point for developing a facility master plan that the district wants the school board to review, possibly in December.
The plan must also consider the district’s finances and enrollment projections and its vision for education in the coming years, said Todd Thackery, vice president of architecture for Ohio-based SHP. .
The good news, Thackery said, is that none of the buildings in the district have reached an industry benchmark that would signal they should be replaced — when the cost of necessary renovations reaches 60% or more of the cost of any new construction.
Most of the buildings show their advanced age, with the exception of Latrobe Primary School, which opened in December 2018. Still, buildings in the district are overall well maintained, he said .
“None are recommended for replacement,” Thackery told about 20 people Thursday at a community forum in the high school auditorium.
In the most ideal situation, said District Superintendent Mike Porembka, it would take at least four years to accomplish the renovations and updates suggested for the five schools, the stadium and the central office in Greater Latrobe. But, he said, now is the time to decide on a long-term plan.
“Nothing happens overnight,” Porembka noted. But, he says, “we are approaching a crossroads. We need to spend the next year figuring out what we want, what we need and what we need to do to provide our children and staff with the best facilities possible.
The next step in the planning process, which is expected to begin in March, will be a series of three educational visualization sessions involving two separate groups.
According to Joshua Predovich, architect and project manager for SHP, one group will consist of approximately 30 district students in grades 5-12 while the other will have between 40 and 50 members, including parents, school partners higher education and district staff and administrators.
“The goal of educational vision is really to understand change,” Predovich said. “Change is about where we are educationally today and where we want to be in the future.”
Session attendees, he said, will take part in exercises, surveys and games to help them “think about the relationship between students and space, think about how these components fit together. assemble”.
After gathering their ideas in a final fourth session, there will be a “fit test” to determine how well the educational needs match the facilities in the district.
Based on its initial facility assessment, SHP projected the upgrade needs and costs for the following district buildings, listed from oldest to newest:
• Baggaley Elementary, built in 1951, expanded in 1974, renovated in 1998 — $15-20 million in upgrades, including replacement of roof, windows and doors;
• Mt. View Elementary, built in 1952, expanded in 1960 and 1974, renovated in 1999 – $15-20 million, including replacement of roof, doors and windows, replacement of leaking copper pipes and moving an underground boiler room to prevent water intrusion;
• Secondary High School, built in 1966, expanded and renovated in 2001 and 2003 — $36-47 million, including partial roof replacement, brick repairs, pool and auditorium upgrades, and replacement of the field’s grass;
• Junior High School, built in 1974, renovated in 1998 and 2014 — $23-30 million, including replacement of roof, drain, doors and windows, and replacement of leaking pipes;
• Latrobe Elementary, built in 2018 — $500,000 to $1 million, including updated classroom technology and replacement of rooftop HVAC units.
The consultant also recommended between $1.8 million and $2.5 million in upgrades to Memorial Stadium, including replacing field lights with LED versions, resurfacing the track, repairing the roof and improving the locker room and the press room.
Suggested work at the district office on Lincoln Avenue in Latrobe includes pavement work and replacement of the roof and rooftop HVAC units, at a cost of $500,000 to $700,000.
Noting that enrollment in the district of about 3,400 students is expected to hold steady or decline, Thackery said Greater Latrobe will have up to 150,000 square feet of excess space in facilities dedicated to K-8 classrooms if it maintains school buildings at their current footprint.
District residents will have multiple opportunities to contribute to the planning process, Predovich said. They can keep up to date with the planning and submit questions and comments by visiting futureglsd.com, where they can also volunteer to participate in an educational vision or be part of a community advisory team that will help develop a final master plan starting in August. Those without internet access can reach the district at 724-539-4200.
Two additional outreach meetings are planned for the summer and fall.