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Kiski Area contracts new student aides provider

| Monday, March 20, 2017, 11:55 p.m.

The Kiski Area School District's planned move to a different provider of aides for special needs students has upset many of those students' parents.A number of parents and educators packed the administration building meeting room Monday night, pleading with the school board to maintain the longtime relationship with the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit, instead of bringing on Key Source Educational Staffing.

The board, however, voted 7-0 to enter into a three-year contract with Key Source, effective July 1.

School officials said the move will save the school district $87,000 over the next three school years.

Many parents who addressed the board stressed how their children bonded with their aides, who were provided by the school district and intermediate unit.

Hope Schick, a mother with an autistic child and Marlene Petro, mother of an epileptic child, were among those who addressed the board and complimented the work the classroom aides did with their children.

Gina Bono, of the Kiski Area Education Association, said the “board's action will affect our most vulnerable and neediest kids.” She also questioned if Key Source would provide the stability needed for a special needs student.

Key Source could not be reached late Tuesday after the meeting.

“It's a very difficult time for the (school) board,” said board President Tamra Smail. “I hear the passion, and it's a difficult decision to make. It's not a hasty decision; we needed to look at our options.”

Superintendent Timothy Scott said intermediate units across the state are transitioning away from providing this type of service.

“I think we can do better through our model,” Scott said. “The IU service is antiquated and outdated, and it couldn't provide all that we needed.”

Athletic hirings

The school board hired Sam Albert as the new head football coach and John Peterman as athletic director.

Albert, the Highlands coach for the past 13 seasons, has led the Golden Rams, Valley, Butler and Freeport high schools to WPIAL playoff berths.

Peterman was head football coach and athletic director at Penn Hills. He lives in the Leechburg area.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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