Canon-Mac expanding high school, improving stadium

Natalie Reid Miller
Observer Reporter

Several capital improvement projects in the Canon-McMillan School District are intended to accommodate a robust student population.

According to Assistant Superintendent Scott Chambers, officials started planning for new construction, renovations and expansion of existing facilities after a demographic study performed in 2013 forecast a growing population in the district.

“In our own discussions, we (considered) our low (school) taxes, a great school district, the development of Southpointe and improvements to Cecil and North Strabane Township infrastructures, resulting in ability to build in undeveloped areas,” he said.

The first project, construction of a $31 million elementary school in Muse, is on schedule and expected to open in time for the 2017-18 school year. An expansion and renovation of the high school and renovation of the stadium are up next.

North Strabane Township board of supervisors Tuesday approved the preliminary site plan of a 38,700-square-foot addition to the existing 220,000-square-foot structure at 314 Elm Street Extension, Canonsburg. The anticipated $17.8 million renovation will include science labs, a large group instruction area, traditional-sized classrooms, expansion of the cafeteria, band room and technology wing, reconfiguration of offices and improvements to the auditorium.

Taking into account that labs equal the size of a classroom and a half, the space allows for the equivalent of 24 additional classrooms.

“We like the idea of offering 21st-century education to our students,” Chambers said of the classroom uses.

The high school currently holds about 1,580 students. When the addition is complete, it will accommodate 1,800.

Construction bids will be put out in May, with work to commence in June. The anticipated completion date is January 2019.

The stadium renovation, scheduled to begin after the fall football season, will address the locker rooms, visitor’s side bleachers, throwing area for track and field events and parking.

The project is estimated at $7.3 million with completion in December 2018. In order to minimize disruptions, Chambers said the plan is to have a construction entrance to separate work on the visitor side of the field so spring sports can proceed.

The district’s spending budget for the 2016-17 school year included a 2-mill tax increase. Among the reasons cited for the increase were looming capital improvement projects. In November, the district took out a bond issue not to exceed $27 million to fund the high school and stadium work.

HHSDR Architects and Engineers was hired for the projects.

The next project slated to begin will be construction of a new middle school. The facility will be located on property purchased by the district in North Strabane Township, off of Route 519 near Canonsburg Hospital. Chambers said no plans have been drawn up yet for the middle school.

Future phases of the district’s facilities plan include construction of a new elementary school at the Wylandville site and a renovation of Hills-Henderson Elementary.