Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

District Eyes Its Options for Middle School Work $14.6 Million Renovation on Tap

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

District Eyes Its Options for Middle School Work $14.6 Million Renovation on Tap

Article excerpt

Renovating a school while it is in session can be tricky, so Mars Area officials are considering moving one of two grades out of the middle school when it is renovated next year.

The district plans $14.6 million in renovations to the 49-year-old building, which houses seventh- and eighth-graders.

Administrators presented an update to the community before the Dec. 4 board meeting.

Originally, said Superintendent Wes Shipley, they considered leaving the seventh-graders at the Centennial School for another year.

"There were a lot of negatives whenever we looked at that a little more closely," he said, including that the middle school day is very different from the elementary schedule that Centennial students keep.

He said he now believes that a better option is moving the eighth-graders to the high school. They could be housed in one area, away from the rest of the students.

"We have the opportunity to use the area in and around the auditorium," he said. An auxiliary gym could be used by the eighth-graders. The schedule is the same, and fewer teachers would have to move.

"In either scenario, we're going to have an issue with teachers having to revise their curriculum," he said. Technology education teachers, for example, could teach about manufacturing "and things that don't need large saws and dust vacuums," he added.

Mr. Shipley said that neither option was "set in stone" at the moment, and he plans to have a firm plan to present to the board within weeks.

Middle school Principal Todd Kolson said he concurred with moving the eighth-graders. "I don't think Centennial has enough space," he said. "We need 13 solid classrooms for education alone."

The renovation project will include some changes to the floor plan and renovations to the interior.

"The project does not entail taking a lot of walls down, does not include a lot of demolition," said John Hays of Thomas & Williamson, the district's construction management firm.

There will be separate areas for seventh and eighth grades, each of which will be separated further into two teams or houses. The house concept "allows for collaboration. …

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