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Franklin Primary Center will remain open

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 4:31 a.m.

Steel Valley School District's Franklin Primary Center will remain open for the 2013-14 school year.

District officials made the announcement at Tuesday night's meeting, putting to rest — at least for another year — concerns of a possible closure of the building that houses the district's kindergarten classes.

Superintendent Ed Wehrer said the district considered closing the school at 220 E. Oliver Road in Munhall and moving the 130 children to Barrett and Park elementary schools for at least the past two years. “There's financial considerations (with closing it),” Wehrer said. “There's educational considerations. It's a challenge to get a principal, a guidance counselor, security guard, special education teacher, speech therapist, cafeteria worker, (professional) aides. We have to get all those resources into that building, and it only serves one grade.”

“There are positives of having kindergarten at Franklin,” Wehrer said. “We think it's a special nurturing environment for those students. I would say that we believe at this point, financially, we can afford to keep it open. Educationally, we'll still make it work.”

He said a previous administration suggested that closing Franklin would save the district at least $200,000.

“We haven't run the numbers ourselves,” Wehrer said. “Franklin costs more than $200,000 a year to operate. ... That was the anticipated savings.”

Students in first through fifth grades attend either Park in Munhall or Barrett in Homestead, based on where they live in the district.

Wehrer said those buildings have the space to accommodate the kindergartners.

School board president Beth Cannon said time was a factor in the decision.

“I'm glad that's the decision we're going to be making,” Cannon said. “We need to give plenty of time if we are going to transition into the elementary buildings. We want to make sure parents and students are comfortable with that. That's something that just can't be done quickly.”

District officials and administrators may consider closing Franklin Primary in the near future.

“I'm sure the district will look at it again,” Wehrer said. “At this point there's no commitment either way, but for 2013-14 there's a firm commitment that Franklin will be open.”

“We have to look at everything,” Cannon said. “We have to make sure we're making all financially wise decisions with all the cuts that the school's always getting. We have to address it every year.”

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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