Frequently Asked Questions
The development of a new high school is a process with many stages. It is expected that members of the community — and others affected by this process — will have questions. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the new school.
Please browse the answered Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below. We hope you will find them helpful.
The district completed a Master Plan review for use in making the decision to build a new high school. In lieu of the Master Plan, three options were presented:
Option 1 was to renovate the current facility. The current high school was built in the late 1950s. Many of the mechanical systems are original and have outlived their use. The building has experienced several renovations and upgrades over the years. As a result, rooms once planned for instruction are now being used for various other purposes. In addition, there was little-to-no concern for special education, the infusion of technology, and expansion when the building was originally built.
Below is a sampling of issues at Thomas Jefferson:
- The current Thomas Jefferson High school does not have adequate space or infrastructure for the additions of technology, special educational needs or curriculum needs moving forward.
- The current Thomas Jefferson High School is not fully ADA Compliant. (Parking Spaces, Bathrooms, Seating Areas, Access etc.)
- The building EFIS System (Exterior Insulation Finish System) as well as the Mason Exterior has experienced multiple failures. The EFIS System must be replaced and the masonry needs repaired.
- The current driveway limits the campus to only one entrance and exit. This is a safety concern for regular operations as well as in the event of an emergency.
- The existing heating systems are past their serviceable life. The current systems are unable to be optimized.
- The current Thomas Jefferson High School is not fully air conditioned.
- The plumbing systems in the current school are not adequate for the size and operations of the facility.
- The current roofing system is beyond its lifespan and has multiple failures. The full roof system must be replaced.
- The major electrical systems are beyond their service life. Most of the systems are original and are approaching three times their recommended lifespan.
- The current high school cannot be segmented during special events or during after school hours creating a security and safety concern.
- There are no automatic building controls for lighting, HVAC or security.
Below are some pictures of the current, outdated high school.
Option 2 was to build a new high school at the site of the current high school. The current location has only one entrance — on Old Clairton Road — and has inherent issues with student drop-off. First responders, and the county, have already insisted that a facility serving this number of students MUST have a minimum of two points of egress. Three points would be preferred. Parking is also an issue at the current site. For major events — such as football games, band festivities, graduation, etc. — the district shuttles participants from Jefferson Elementary. Finally, having major construction next to an existing school would not only be disruptive, but would also deplete the already limited available parking.
Option 3 was to build a new high school at a new location. This option supplied the district with a blank canvas, providing vast opportunity for future advancement and growth.
In the Spring of 2013, after reviewing all of the available options, the Board of School Directors selected Option 3.
The cost of the new building is currently estimated to be between $85,000,000 and $90,000,000 (approximately $86,000,000). In anticipation of these costs, the School Board has planned for tax increases over a seven (7) year period, which began in 2013.
Homeowners with an assessed value of $100,000 paid $1,771.00 for the 2012-2013 school year. Here is how the increase will look over the seven year span:
|Tax Year||Annual Tax||Monthly Rate||Annual Increase|
This tax increase results in a total increase of $302.00 over these seven years.
The schedule for the new building is as follows:
Now through September 2015 — Planning, design, and creation of bid documents
October 2015 — Project goes to bid
December 2015 — The School Board awards bids for the project
January 2016 — Construction begins
July 1, 2018 — Target day for completion
We anticipate occupancy of the new Thomas Jefferson High School beginning the 2018-2019 school year. Therefore, the class of 2019 (8th graders during the 2014-2015 school year) will be the first graduating class of the new high school. The class of 2018 (freshmen during the 2014-2015 school year) will be the last class to graduate from the current building.
In April 2013, the district purchased 151 acres of land — which was previously known as “the Fiore property” — at a cost of $1,100,000. The property is located directly across from the District Administration Center at 835 Old Clairton Road.
This location is able to provide ample parking, take traffic off of Old Clairton Road, and provide the space necessary for additional growth.
At this time, the plan is to raze the current high school facility and create practice fields for district and community use. These fields will also be used for parking during large events as the stadium and field house will remain at the current site.
A new building must be a source of community pride — creating a new and exciting civic landmark as a destination which reflects the values of all of the West Jefferson Hills communities.
A new building must be an inspiring place of exceptional achievement, fostering outstanding performance in academics, the arts, and athletics.
A new building must provide a variety of powerful learning environments — creating diverse, flexible, technology-rich learning spaces. These learning spaces must foster collaboration, accommodate a variety of teaching methods, and serve learners for generations to come.
A new building must provide a variety of spaces that students are able to call their own. These spaces must represent light, bright, cheerful student-centric places for gathering and performing activities, which support learning through social interaction, engagement, and leadership.
We know that high achieving schools build great communities.
The present plan — while not final, and still subject to change — is to include:
- at least 34 classrooms to house English, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science
- additional classrooms for Special Education, Art, Music, and Business
- an auditorium to seat the entire student body, faculty, and administration
- a full-size gymnasium
- an auxiliary gym to seat approximately 250
- a six lane pool with seating for about 300 spectators
- a performance theater, which can double as a large group instruction room
- building administration offices
- locker rooms
- a cafeteria
- and more!
The new building will provide state-of-the-art technology, supporting a learning environment for the future!
The total size of the building is estimated to be between 240,000 and 260,000 square feet, with occupancy for the 2018-2019 school year.