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Trade school closures spur outreach

| Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, 1:06 a.m.

A variety of options are developing for students of two Lower Burrell trade schools that closed unexpectedly this week to continue their educations.

The Pennsylvania Association of Private School Administrators announced on Friday that several of its member schools will help students of Oakbridge Academy of Arts and Newport Business Institute, which closed on Monday.

The Career Training Academy in New Kensington, Cambria-Rowe Business College in Indiana and The Art Institute of Pittsburgh are offering to take in the schools' students at no additional cost to them.

Also, Penn State New Kensington, Community College of Allegheny County and Westmoreland County Community College are providing free counseling services, financial aid advice and comprehensive testing options to the displaced students.

Richard Dumaresq, executive director of the Private School Administrators group, said his association is working with the state Department of Education to create a “safety net” for the schools' students.

“This was a shock to all of us and all the schools in the area. This usually doesn't happen,” Dumaresq said.

Oakbridge and Newport students soon will be receiving letters detailing the options, he said. They include transferring to the other schools, receiving a tuition refund and applying for loan exonerations.

“We just didn't want to see someone who maybe is in their last term or in the middle of their education and have to stop their education. That's the worst thing possible, especially in this economy,” Dumaresq said.

Cambria-Rowe Business College would be aimed at Newport students, as it has no art curriculum, said its chief executive officer, Mike Artim. Its Indiana branch campus was chosen over its main campus in Johnstown because it may be closer for the affected students.

Artim said his school agreed to help when it was contacted by state education officials. Newport students should be able to transfer all of their work to the school, he said.

“We want to help out any way we can. It's always sad when a situation like that occurs, especially for the students involved. We understand their frustration,” he said.

Braden Ashe and Brian C. Rittmeyer are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Ashe can be reached at 724-226-4673 or bashe@tribweb.com. Rittmeyer can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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