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Federal funds help Jeannette schools make improvements

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

Jeannette School Board voted Monday to take steps toward giving each district building wireless Internet access.

The move is necessary as Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams and Keystone testing will be online. The first tests scheduled to make the change are the Keystone exams high school students face later this year.

The installation will be paid for through Access Funds, which are essentially federal reimbursements given to districts related to special education expenses. The purchase and installation of the Aruba Wireless System for the high school and McKee buildings will cost a little more than $50,000.

The board agreed to the purchase the system through the Costars program, which is the state's cooperative purchasing program. The installation company is Computer Connections in Greensburg.

The board also voted Monday night to spend $16,645 in Access Fund on a new mathematics series for the district. This is the first portion of the series' payments. The second portion will be paid through Title I funds and the final payment will be from the district's general fund.

The district plans to utilize other federal funds to make security and energy-saving improvements to the McKee building. These funds are part of a low-interest loan the district was offered a few years ago to make energy-saving capital improvements.

The funds — through the Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) program — must be repaid at an interest rate of .7 percent. The program is a federal borrowing program initiated as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

This week the district agreed to utilize QSCB funding to spend $75,000 for energy-saving plumbing upgrades, nearly $70,000 to pay entrance security improvements, and $122,900 for electrical work all at the McKee building.

“This will make that (McKee) building green and more efficient,” said Mark Gogolsky, board member. He added that the McKee building is nearly 20 years old.

“We need to spend it (the QSCB funding) by October,” said board president Joe Yorio. “If you don't use it, you lose it.”

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at klinden@tribweb.com or 724-838-5154.

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