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School secession from Carlynton School District never had chance because of disconnect

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A petition from a group of Rosslyn Farms residents three years ago to remove the borough from the Carlynton School District has been denied.

The residents had asked that students who live in the borough attend Chartiers Valley schools instead.

The state Department of Education denied the petition on May 30, according to Carlynton solicitor William Andrews. The document had been filed with state officials on July 5, 2011.

In considering such a petition, the department looks at three main factors: the effect on students in the area to be transferred, the students left in the original district and the students in the district that would accept the transferred students.

Much of the decision, Andrews said at the May 3 school board meeting, hinged on the concept of contiguity — that all municipalities in a district connect.

Removing Rosslyn Farms from Carlynton, which also includes Carnegie and Crafton, would create a non-contiguous district for both Carlynton and Chartiers Valley.

Attorney Anthony Mengine, who represented the residents, couldn't be reached for comment. When the petition was filed, about 78 percent of 371 taxable Rosslyn Farms residents supported it.

“The resultant fractured geographic scheme is not supportive of a finding of educational merit,” according to the state decision, signed by Carolyn Dumaresq, deputy education secretary. From this analysis, the department said, the petition had “little merit” even before academics were considered.

The deputy secretary also found that transportation times would increase if Rosslyn Farms students were to attend Chartiers Valley.

The department's study found that academics and curricula were too similar to support the residents' argument that Chartiers Valley would be better for students academically.

The study looked at five years of SAT data from the two districts, and concluded that Carlynton actually has exceeded the average scores of Chartiers Valley students although CV's 2012 scores were higher than Carlynton's.

“We have never felt that Chartiers Valley is inferior to Carlynton or Carlynton is superior to Chartiers Valley,” Andrews said. “It has never been about that.”

In terms of Adequate Yearly Progress, the measuring stick for a district's adherence to No Child Left Behind standards, both districts achieved AYP in each of the past five years and are on track to meet a goal that all students reach proficiency in reading and math by 2013.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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