SLIPPERY ROCK – The conversation about potential renovations for the Slippery Rock Area School District continued Wednesday night as community members came together to help prioritize the project list.
“I’m all for whatever the school needs,” said Sara Gaskill of Portersville, who has two children in the district.
About two dozen people including administrators, teachers, a student and residents attended the meeting – the first of three charrettes that school officials have scheduled to discuss construction ideas.
Wednesday’s session was held at the high school and the focus was on that structure, which was built in 1955.
The remaining meetings will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays: Oct. 16 at Slippery Rock Area Elementary, where the group will discuss that building and Moraine Elementary; and Nov. 20 at the middle school.
School board members have been taking a closer look at the district’s facilities, and they’re relying on public input to help them decide whether renovations, new construction, or a combination are needed in the near future, said Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Angelucci.
“The big part is to give us feedback,” he said.
Before each charrette – which he noted is a new word he learned that refers to a group of stakeholders participating in a project – attendees are invited to take self-guided tours of the buildings.
On Wednesday night, Shelby and Lane Rawson of Slippery Rock Township walked the halls of the high school. Mrs. Rawson is a graduate of SRHS, where their daughter McKenna, 16, is a senior.
The meetings are good opportunities for people to share ideas and learn more about the options that the school board will be considering, said Mrs. Rawson, who works as a paraprofessional at Moraine.
“It could impact our grandchildren,” Rawson said.
Areas that the Rawsons feel may need improvement include technology, security, and air conditioning.
“We’re not trying to make things prettier,” Rawson said of updating the buildings’ infrastructure and operations.
Eckles Architecture and Engineering, New Castle, is in the process of completing a district-wide facility study, said Mark Scheller, a principal with Eckles who led the charrette.
The firm has been studying safety, security, accessibility, doors, hardware, signage, means of egress, exterior and interior components, and how educational programs are delivered.
Eckles’ suggestions for the high school include: relocating the main entrance and main office, which would provide better security measures; adding more security features like additional surveillance cameras; and updating the building’s handicap-accessible areas.
School officials may want to think about adding some unisex, single-user bathroom stalls in order to provide more gender-neutral options, Scheller said.
A new lock system would mean fewer keys are necessary; better signage is needed to help direct visitors; all exterior windows and doors could be replaced to improve energy efficiency; and new flooring at the main entrance lobby would reduce tripping hazards.
Most classrooms are in good condition, with some of them needing a few changes, he noted.
The computer room could be moved next to the library, which would benefit from being turned into a media center.
Updates are needed for the band and music room, and the auditorium’s control center needs to be rebuilt, Scheller said.
It’s time to think about replacing the building’s systems – heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical, said Bill Hartland, project engineer with H.F. Lenz Company, based in Johnstown.
The main office and classrooms need better air circulation, and many people would like to have air conditioning in the whole building, not just a few areas, he said.
Replacing the boilers, hot water pipes, water fountains, fire sprinklers, fire alarm system, plumbing fixtures, phone system, and auditorium lights are also recommended.
“It’s functional, but it’s an older system,” Hartland said of the lighting.
Each meeting attendee then received a list of the suggestions with instructions to circle whether they think each item needs done within the next three years, in three to five years, in five to ten years, or is not needed.
Eckles will add those results to the study, Scheller said, adding that it’s too soon to pin down the potential budget or construction timeline.
The group wrapped up the meeting in the library, where they worked in teams to review different parts of the building.
Garrett Galcik, a 17-year-old junior from Prospect, attended the meeting on behalf of his classmates.
The auditorium needs air conditioning; central air is a big concern for a lot of the students, he said.
The team looking at plans for the second floor included board members Vito Pilosi III and Theresa Pearce; Mike Ziegler, the district’s facilities director; and Chris Mooney, the high school’s health and physical education teacher.
Board members have toured buildings in other districts to study their renovation projects, Pilosi said, with Pearce adding that the board has already held multiple public meetings for Slippery Rock Area School District residents.
One person from each team shared their group’s ideas and concerns, pointing out what they did or didn’t like.
“People are passionate. I like it,” Angelucci said.
One team said the cafeteria kitchen needs updated, and another group said the library could be reconfigured to be more open – instead of tall bookshelves throughout the room.
Board member Mark Taylor, whose group looked at the main entrance, reported that they like the idea of relocating that area, buy they would want to ensure safe traffic flow and secure access points.
People can continue to share their thoughts by contacting Angelucci, Scheller said.
“This is a constant collaboration,” he said.
Slippery Rock Area School District covers the boroughs of Slippery Rock, Harrisville, West Liberty, Portersville and Prospect, and the townships of Brady, Worth, Muddy Creek, Mercer and Franklin.
For more information, visit www.slipperyrock.k12.pa.us or call 724-794-2960.