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Bell Township interested in obtaining the Bell-Avon Elementary building

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Bell Township Supervisors say they're interested in obtaining the Bell-Avon Elementary building once the building closes at the end of the school year.

“It's something we thought of for an office and police department,” said John Bowman, chairman of the township supervisors.

The Kiski Area School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to close the school as part of a $30 million school consolidation plan, which includes closing Washington and Laurel Point elementary schools.

The board finalized the closure of Washington Elementary on Monday.

The district plans to close Laurel Point Elementary School after next school year.

The district has several options for the real estate, including taking bids, a sealed auction, donation or a selling it.

Bell's supervisors are hoping the district considers donating Bell-Avon Elementary to the township.

“They took out the only school or viable thing in the township,” Supervisor Terry Bollinger said, “and I feel they should give it to the township.”

Before the district can move forward with a transaction, the state Department of Education must review the district's documents to verify that it complied with the school code to notify the public and give adequate time for public comment about the closures.

The earliest the district will receive a response is June 30.

During district discussions about its plans, few residents, including a citizens committee that reviewed the district's options, objected to the consolidation.

Officials cited declining enrollment, the condition of the buildings, improvements to the educational program and cost savings as the reasons for closing the schools.

Board members said Tuesday that they're confident their decision will benefit the district and students.

“I believe all the information we garnered allowed us to meet our objectives, which is to come up with the right number of buildings that are going to offer our kids equitable service and adequate facilities,” board member James Summerville said.

Students at the closed schools would be moved to the district's four remaining elementary buildings, all of which are being renovated and/or expanded.

District officials said this month that they might send Vandergrift Elementary students to Washington Elementary next school year while Vandergrift is undergoing renovations.

All students in grades 5 and 6 will be housed in the renovated and expanded North Washington Elementary, which will be named the Kiski Area Upper Elementary School.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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