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Vote set on closing Laurel Point Elementary School

| Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 12:36 a.m.

The Kiski Area School Board set a tentative date to vote on whether to close Laurel Point Elementary School for April 23.

“We'll make the formal decision on the date at next month's meeting,” board President Keith Blayden said at Wednesday night's agenda meeting.

After a hearing in January on the potential Laurel Point closure, the board had three months to weigh its options and comments from residents.

The proposed closure is part of a process to reorganize the district.

In 2011, the board voted to shutter three of its seven elementary schools while renovating other buildings and building a new school to accommodate the changes.

Bell Avon Elementary already has been closed and the building sold at auction. The other, Washington Elementary, is set to close at the end of the school year.

In fact, at the board's meeting scheduled for Monday, the board plans to vote on authorizing the administration to advertise for bids for the sale of the former Washington Elementary.

State funding

Kiski Area will experience a slight uptick in funding for special education, but the $11,900 increase is a drop in the bucket for the district's roughly $5 million special education budget.

“We get roughly $2.38 million from the state in reimbursement,” said Business Manager Peggy Gillespie.

“It's very much an underfunded area,” Superintendent John Meighan said. “Expenses can run very high for a kid that's very involved.”

The state's special education increase is the first one in six years.

Overall, Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal to increase state investment in education is “moving in the right direction, but caution,” Meighan said. “A lot of the pomp and circumstance you heard on TV didn't boil down to actual dollars.

Last week, Corbett presented a 2014-2015 state budget that called for $12 billion in state money for education — an increase of about 3.3 percent over last year's budget.

Gillespie said the bulk of the increases from the state will be one-time funds, such as the new Ready to Learn Block Grant program that will fund instructional initiatives, and Ready By Third Grade, which is aimed at math and reading programs for third-graders.

Stephanie Ritenbaugh is a freelance writer.

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