Belle Vernon Area superintendent to pitch reconfiguration
During the 1999-2000 school year, student population in the Belle Vernon Area School District was 3,031. As of Dec. 26, the number had dropped to 2,587 students.
“Think about it – that's like a class and a half,” Superintendent Dr. John Wilkinson said.
On Jan. 9, Wilkinson will lead a public presentation on his recommendation to reconfigure the district's buildings. Closure of one building is a possibility, Wilkinson acknowledged.
Wilkinson said all of the buildings are in acceptable condition.
If his plan goes through, one school building likely will be closed, said Wilkinson, adding that “everything's open for discussion.”
The superintendent declined to say which building could be closed, only conceding it would not be the high school.
There are five academic buildings: the high school; two middle schools, Bellmar and Rostraver; and two elementary schools, Rostraver and Marion.
Marion Elementary was constructed in 1939 and underwent renovations or additions in 1958, 1971, 1994 and 2008. Rostraver Elementary was built in 1958 and was renovated or expanded in 1967, 1989, 1994 and 2008, according to the district's website.
Bellmar was constructed in 1964, with updates in 1984, 1989 and 2001. Rostraver Middle was constructed in 1955 and updated in 1968, 1989 and 1994.
After Wilkinson makes his presentation, the public will be able to ask questions about the proposal.
He said the school board likely will take a couple months to study the proposal. He expects the board to vote on the matter by April. If approved, the plan would be implemented in the 2013-14 school year.
“I think the sooner the better, but everybody needs enough time to think about the changes,” Wilkinson said. “This is going to be a big change, but it's what's best for the future of the district and for our kids.”
Wilkinson said money saved through the reconfiguration plan could be used to further education.
“The money we save from being smart about what we do here is money we can spend on the students,” Wilkinson said. “That's money we can spend to buy algebra books or laptops, for example.
“But this isn't a money-saving issue. This is about how can we provide the best opportunity for our kids. This is not making change for change sake.”
While teachers might have to transfer within the district, Wilkinson said he does not think it would affect jobs.
“Last year, when we had furloughs, we right-sized the district,” Wilkinson said.
“We still have the same number of kids.”
Wilkinson said he has spoken with state Department of Education officials about the protocol for the process.
If approved by the board, the proposal would be submitted to the Department of Education for approval.
Board member Joe Grata said previous discussions, held when Stephen Russell was superintendent, centered around the possibility of closing Rostraver Middle School.
Grata said that if any buildings are closed, he would like district officials to explore the possibility of future public or public/private use for them.
“If any buildings are to be closed and the grades reconfigured, he needs to make a compelling case to the board, the parents and the public for the changes or reconfigurations,” Grata said.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Law enforcement often feels overwhelmed by Mon Valley’s heroin epidemic
- Monongahela uses modern technology to connect people to the city’s historic past
- Scout restores Brownsville paddleboat’s smokestacks to earn Eagle award
- N. Charleroi man jailed in child sex case
- Brownsville ducky race postponed
- N. Belle Vernon man jailed after police station visit
- 2 men nabbed in Donora drug sting
- Director opposes increased cost of Ringgold project
- 7 Up distributed from two Charleroi sites
- Man dies in Monongahela fire
- Mon Valley school districts wait out budget impasse