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4 Alle-Kiski Valley high schools recognized

| Thursday, May 2, 2013, 7:36 a.m.

Four Alle-Kiski Valley high schools earned silver medals in rankings done by a national publication, although one of those schools no longer exists.

U.S. News and World Report recently announced its rankings, which awarded silver medals to the four high schools.

They include: Valley in the New Ken-sington-Arnold School District; Riverview; Fox Chapel Area; and Elderton.

Elderton High was closed last year by the Armstrong School District.

The four placed among the top 65 high schools in Pennsylvania and in the top 2,200 schools out of about 21,000 public schools evaluated nationally.

While Valley has had to deal with its image of a struggling, under-performing high school, Superintendent John Pallone said, “I am pleasantly pleased, but not surprised, that we are in the top 65 schools in the state.

“I'm glad this kind of data is coming out to show that we are competitive and we are doing well,” Pallone continued. “We really do have a terrific student body despite the perception that we aren't producing or are, somehow, a second-class school district.”

Valley High School came in at No. 63 in the state rankings and 2,121 nationally.

Fox Chapel Area was ranked 25th in the state and 853rd nationally; while Riverview was 45th statewide and 1,438 among U.S. schools.

Elderton was 49th in the state and 1,501 nationally.

That high school was closed initially in 2008-09, but reopened for the 2010-11 school year when an election changed the school board's composition.

Last June, however, the board voted to close Elderton again as part of a school consolidation and construction project to divest itself of buildings in need of extensive repairs.

“Keep this in mind, the school wasn't closed for under-performing. It is economics that force small schools to close,” said Joe Close, of Worthington, who is president of the Armstrong School Board.

The data used by U.S. News showed that Elderton had an enrollment of only 287 with 32 teachers, giving it a ratio of 9 students for every 1 teacher.

By comparison, Fox Chapel's student-teacher ratio was 11-to-1, Riverview's was 12-to-1 and Valley had a 19-to-1 ratio.

“I'm proud of that fact that they did that,” Close said. “Obviously, they did well. And would anyone argue that they shouldn't do well?

“That's the argument for the small schools — that it's a better learning environment,” he said. “The question is: Can you afford them?”

Riverview Superintendent Margaret DiNinno and Fox Chapel Area Superintendent Ann Stephens did not return calls from the Valley News Dispatch seeking comment.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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