Kiski Area puts stop to transfer requests
By Brian C. Rittmeyer
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The Kiski Area School District will not entertain new requests to send children to an elementary school other than the one to which they are assigned next school year, Superintendent John Meighan said.
That may be an issue for parents whose children now attend Bell-Avon Elementary and thought they would be going to Mamont Elementary after Bell-Avon closes at the end of the current school year. Some students will instead be attending Vandergrift Elementary.
The school board held a state-mandated hearing on closing Bell-Avon on Tuesday night.
Five residents attended.
A presentation covered the district's reasons for closing Bell-Avon, including declining enrollment, the condition of the building, financial concerns and improving programs.
A hearing on closing Washington Elementary was held Thursday.
Both schools would be closed at the end of this school year as part of the district's $30 million elementary schools project.
For the 2013-14 school year, all of the district's fifth-and sixth-grade students will attend the new upper elementary school, now being built at the former North Washington Elementary School.
Most of Bell-Avon's kindergarten through fourth-grade students will be sent to Mamont, which is being renamed Kiski Area South Primary School. An addition at Mamont is almost complete.
Chris Hartman, president of the Bell-Avon parent-teacher group, said many parents are excited about the move to Mamont, and students are being prepared for the change.
However, students living along Route 819 north from its intersection with Route 981 will be sent to Vandergrift Elementary, which is being renamed Kiski Area East Primary School.
Hartman said there are parents who are disappointed with that.
Meighan said the reason for the split is to balance class sizes and shorten travel times for those living closer to Vandergrift than Mamont.
In response to a question from Hartman, Meighan said administrators will not allow parents to take children who will be assigned to Vandergrift to Mamont instead, at least for the first school year.
The district has a practice of allowing children to attend a different elementary school provided class size allows and parents transport their children.
Meighan said administrators want the populations at the schools to even out after the change.
Meighan said administrators are considering allowing Bell-Avon students now attending Mamont who would be assigned to Vandergrift to remain at Mamont.
He also said the district would do its best not to split up families.
Comments on closing Bell-Avon will be accepted by the district until Feb. 25.
The school board cannot vote on closing Bell-Avon or Washington schools for at least 90 days after the hearings.
The board will hold special meetings to vote on closing each school.
Meighan said those meetings are tentatively scheduled for April 29 for Washington, and April 30 for Bell-Avon.
The district has not decided what it will do with the buildings after they are closed.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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