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State Sen. Ward talks politics of education with Penn-Trafford board

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

As Penn-Trafford school officials press forward on a renovation plan at the high school, they continue to advocate for the state to restore a program that reimburses school districts for public school-improvement projects.

With state Sen. Kim Ward in attendance at Tuesday's Penn-Trafford School Board meeting, Superintendent Tom Butler said the reinstatement of the funding program known as PlanCon is critical to Penn-Trafford.

District officials are working with an architect on an estimated $30-million renovation of the 40-year-old high school, which is the youngest of Penn-Trafford's buildings.

“If you want to put a face to it, you can bring a bunch of your senate friends, and you could go through some of our buildings and see what we're dealing with,” Butler told Ward, a Republican from Hempfield. “They're safe. They're comfortable. But they're 80 to 90 years old, too.”

State officials have frozen funding for the program and put a moratorium on new applications, but Ward said she doesn't think PlanCon is “absolutely dead.”

“I think we have to look at it and see what money we have,” she said. “I think it was a very worthy thing to be able to help our school districts. So, hopefully, we can find a way to do it again.”

Ward attended the meeting to review a series of education-related issues in the Legislature. Among the topics she addressed were:

• Liquor-store privatization: Though Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed creating state block grants for schools that would be funded by the sale of the state liquor system, Ward said some legislators want to put the money toward roads and bridges.

• Prevailing wage: Ward said State House members are discussing a proposal to exempt school districts and municipalities from prevailing-wage requirements on projects.

• Special education: A bill that the Senate passed last month would create a special education funding commission to reform the funding formula to reflect the range of services needed to educate students.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or cforeman@tribweb.com.

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