Plum follows Woodland Hills in pulling out of BCMC

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Gateway officials say there is a backup plan for high school students who are enrolled at Boyce Campus Middle College, despite two of the four participating school districts dropping out over the past two years.

The school — which had been run collaboratively by the Gateway, Plum, Woodland Hills and Penn Hills school districts — has provided a smaller, more personalized educational environment for students who struggle at larger schools, according to parents and students who have protested in recent years to maintain funding for the school.

But this school year, Woodland Hills stopped its participation, and Plum officials recently decided to pull out for the 2013-14 school year.

Prior to Plum dropping out, the school was projected to cost Gateway about $310,000 for the salaries and benefits of three Gateway teachers next school year.

In addition to about $70,000 to rent the building, which is on the Monroeville Boyce campus of the Community College of Allegheny County.

Gateway Superintendent Nina Zetty said there is a backup plan, which will be presented at the May 16 education committee meeting.

Charter school funding

Pennsylvania's “flawed” charter school funding formula is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions in additional tax dollars, according to school director Skip Drumheller.

Drumheller last week asked the rest of the Gateway School Board to support a resolution that calls for state legislators to reduce the amount of state funding that is transferred from public school districts to charter schools each year.

The resolution also notes an increase of charter school expenditures in recent years, and a decrease of reimbursement provided to public school districts by the state.

For every student who lives in Gateway school district and transfers to a charter school, it represents a transfer of funds that exceed the true cost of educating the student at a charter school, Drumheller said.

The school board unanimously approved the resolution, which will be submitted to state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-McKeesport), state Rep. Joe Markosek (D-Monroeville) and Gov. Tom Corbett.

Fire training

A dispute between a Gateway school director and a Monroeville fire chief regarding training exercises on school grounds was settled last week with a mutual show of respect.

During a training exercise outside of the middle school on a recent Sunday afternoon, firefighters were told by Drumheller that they couldn't train without a permit, according to two fire chiefs who were in attendance at the April 24 School Board meeting.

For years, Monroeville volunteer fire companies have held occasional training exercises outside of school and commercial buildings to familiarize firemen with the grounds and the location of fire hydrants, said Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company No. 5 Chief Ron Harvey.

Superintendent Nina Zetty said she appreciates the service of local firemen but would like to see a schedule of upcoming training exercises on school grounds.

Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company No. 6 Chief Harold Katofsky said they train occasionally at commercial and educational facilities throughout Monroeville on Monday and Thursday evenings, and Sunday afternoons.

He said it's hard to pinpoint specific dates because their training depends on how many volunteers are available that day.

Drumheller said it is his responsibility as a school director to watch over the school grounds but added that he wasn't trying to be disrespectful.

“If you took that the wrong way, I apologize for that,” Drumheller said.

Harvey explained to school officials that it was he who Drumheller approached in the school parking lot.

“I appreciate his apology,” Harvey said.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or

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