Pitt-Bradford will not purchase St. Bernard School

After reviewing an extensive feasibility study, officials Pitt-Bradford have decided not to purchase St. Bernard School to house STEM-related academic programs.

Last spring, Pitt-Bradford officials entered into discussions with St. Bernard Parish representatives about the possibility of purchasing and then renovating the school, which would give the university much-needed space to house potential new academic programs as well as enhance existing programs.

Before those discussions could advance further, Pitt-Bradford hired Pittsburgh architectural firm MacLachlan, Cornelius & Filoni to conduct a feasibility study to examine two possible options: purchasing and renovating St. Bernard School or building a new building on campus.

According to that study, the total estimated cost to renovate St. Bernard School to meet the university's program needs as well as all building code requirements would exceed $34.1 million. The estimated cost to construct a new building on campus would be $22.2 million.

“We extensively reviewed the report and concluded that purchasing St. Bernard School was not a realistic option,” said Lawrence Feick, Pitt-Bradford's interim president.

Some of the most significant disparities in cost estimates between the two options were in replacing existing systems - plumbing; electrical; and heating, ventilating and air conditioning -- in the school building. For example, the architects estimated it would cost $4.2 million to upgrade the school's existing HVAC compared to $2.7 million to install an HVAC system in a new building.

Additionally, the estimated cost for interior construction at St. Bernard School was $1.6 million more than it would be for a new building, and site work at the current school was estimated to cost more than $1.5 million than for that at a new building.

“Taking all of those costs into consideration, we will be pursuing a new building on campus for our academic needs,” Feick said.             

Last August, Pitt-Bradford received $2 million from the state to help develop a facility that would house labs, shops, classrooms and other specialized spaces, making it possible for the university to offer new academic programs and enhance existing ones in the STEM fields --- science, technology, engineering and math.

“Providing new and enhanced academic programs will not only benefit future generations of Pitt-Bradford students but also the companies in the region and beyond that hire our graduates,” Feick said.