ShareThis Page

Moon board mulls Allard Elementary's fate

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

While the Moon Area School Board is mulling whether to renovate or close Allard Elementary School, Robert Morris University is eyeing the school as a potential site to help teachers in training.

Robert Del Greco, a former Allard principal who now is at RMU, told the school board on Monday that RMU education students could observe classes, or provide tutoring to students.

Allard is the closest elementary school to RMU's campus on University Boulevard in Moon.

“We place student teachers in all five elementary schools” in the Moon Area district and elsewhere across eight Western Pennsylvania counties, he said.

The university, which can grant reading specialist certifications, could hold reading screenings during the summer at Allard, Del Greco said, and could help to enhance other programs there as part of a professional development school cooperative.

The school board is considering Allard's future, after the district's fifth-graders moved to the middle school this year.

Del Greco said the first steps to make Allard or another school a professional development school would be obtaining the school board's commitment, identifying a school, agreeing on goals for the school and developing a plan this winter or spring. University officials hope to have a professional development school in place by next fall.

School Director Dennis Harbaugh said the board's facilities committee, which he chairs, will follow up next month with the university on the proposal. RMU already provides several programs in the Moon Area schools.

The district has retained consultants to study its elementary schools. About 23 rooms are under-used, because fifth-grade classes now are in the middle school.

Five scenarios for closing, renovating or adding onto various buildings have been proposed.

Colleen Murphy of Moon said Monday that other districts that have closed schools “are sitting with empty buildings for years. They are difficult to sell or repurpose.”

Also, “mega-schools would take a huge value away from” Moon Area, Murphy said.

Harbaugh said the board is looking for other ideas, and would look at all options. “I don't think we're aiming for mega-schools,” he said.

Still, Moon Area has more elementary schools for its size than other districts, board member Ron Steele said. Hampton and West Allegheny, each with more than 3,000 students, have three elementary schools. Neighboring Montour, with 2,894 students, has two elementary schools and is consolidating to one.

Mike Baker of Moon said more than half of all elementary students live west of University Boulevard, but many ride by Allard and Hyde schools to attend Brooks in the eastern part of the township.

He suggested the board study the elementary population by geographic area, to see what would happen with redrawn school boundaries, before making any decisions.

The discussion grew testy, and solicitor Michael Brungo cautioned the audience not to call out comments.

“No one wants to close a school, but we have to look at all the options,” board President Sandra McCurdy said.

Sandra Fischione Donovan is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.