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Ringgold to seek state's help funding new school building

| Thursday, July 24, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

The Ringgold School District will formally seek state help in funding its proposed new middle school.

The board Wednesday night authorized its architect, HHSDR Engineers, to submit documents applying for funding under the state's PlanCON program.

PlanCON, short for Planning and Construction Workbook, is a set of forms and procedures used to apply for state reimbursement.

The forms are designed to document a local school district's planning process, provide justification for a project to the public, ascertain compliance with state laws and regulations, and establish the level of state participation in project costs.

Directors Larry Mauro and Gene Kennedy voted against the PlanCON submission.

The state lifted the moratorium on PlanCON, which began in October 2012, with the start of the new state fiscal year on July 1.

The General Assembly made $10 million available for new school construction under PlanCON. But once a project enters at Plan A, it is eligible for reimbursement.

There are 340 projects in the PlanCON process right now and any new project would get in line behind those projects.

Applying is the first of 11 steps in PlanCON. Reimbursement does not come until a project reaches Part H.

Two hundred projects are awaiting Part H. An additional 140 are in stages A through G, Eller said.

Donora and Monongahela elementary centers were closed at the end of the 2010-11 school year. At one time, the Ringgold School Board was considering a plan to reopen the buildings and renovate them for use as middle schools.

The board ultimately decided to pursue construction of a new middle school at the Carroll Township site where the high school is located.

Jim Dodd, a Donora resident who unsuccessfully ran for school board last year on a platform opposing new construction, spoke at length during the meeting and even turned his notes over to two other residents when his allotted time ended.

He questioned the condition of Ringgold Middle School. That building, which sits on a dormant pyrite pile, would be replaced by the new middle school.

After the board voted, Dodd said the district would have to front the whole cost of construction and await state reimbursement.

Board President Mariann Bulko said the board is prepared to build anew even if state funding was not available.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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