Shaler Area revamping district through capital improvement projects

Friday, August 9, 2019 | 12:01 AM


The Shaler Area School District is completing nearly $3.98 million in capital improvement projects while students are on summer break, according to Sherri Ludwig, district business affairs director.

Ludwig said the district is using bond funding to cover the following: replacing Shaler Area Elementary School’s roof, Shaler Area High School’s cooling tower and Biles Field’s turf; paving Paul Schweiger Way leading to the high school and installing new exterior doors on all district buildings.

John Kaib, buildings and grounds supervisor, said that the district has scheduled more capital projects than in previous years, “in an ongoing effort to maintain the district’s facilities.”

“We are so excited about the capital improvement projects that are occurring throughout our school district,” Superintendent Sean Aiken said. “Each of these projects have been identified to provide significant upgrades across our school district. From roof projects to cooling towers to roadways and athletic fields, we are committed to maintaining and upgrading our facilities to create a safe and effective learning environment for all students. The summer is an ideal time to complete these projects as students and most staff are not in school and weather conditions are typically more ideal for these types of projects.”

The replacement of the 170,000-square-foot elementary school roof at nearly $2.88 million is the costliest improvement, based on data Ludwig provided.

The roof is approximately 25 to 30 years old, but, Kaib said employees have patched sections of it more recently. Work will occur in two phases because the project is too large for completion during one summer, he said.

The following contractors are assisting with the roof project: Blair County-based TRS Roofing Inc., McKees Rocks-based Lugaila Mechanical Inc., Cranberry-based Shipley Brothers Construction and Castle Shannon-based MARSA Inc. Masonry Contractor.

Next, Shaler Area is paying Montreal-based FieldTurf roughly $524,000 to replace Biles Field’s artificial turf. The district used the company when renovating Titan Stadium in 2016.

FieldTurf completed an initial safety inspection of the existing turf spanning the 120-yard field used for lacrosse and soccer, Kaib explained.

“It involves inserting a tube into the ground, filling it with water, then timing how long it takes for the water to be absorbed into the ground.”

“The turf was more than 10 years old and the compaction rating raised safety concerns,” he said.

Kaib said the district’s new cooling tower could prevent future mold issues – last year’s school year was delayed when mold was found in two classrooms.

Huckestein Mechanical Services Inc., of Chateau, is installing the tower for just under $232,000. Company representatives at a January school board meeting said that the tower would maximize cooling and better control the school’s humidity levels. Kaib compared it to an air conditioner “at a very large capacity.”

Shields Asphalt Paving paved Paul Schweiger Way from Anderson to Wible Run roads Aug. 6. The district contracted with the Valenia paving company for the $168,470 project.

Kaib said that both Shaler Area employees and contractors are replacing the district’s exterior doors. Moreover, the district plans to update all of its security cameras, focusing on the high and elementary schools this year.

Kaib said district employees will repair Marzolf Primary School and Shaler Area Middle School sidewalks, weather and time permitting.

The district is switching all outside lighting to LED bulbs in phases.

“LED bulbs only need to be replaced every year,” Kaib said. “They shine brighter and the lower voltage translates to electricity savings.”