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Armstrong School District pulls leasing school to Adelphoi Village

| Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Bill Shirley
The future of the Elderton complex was a topic of discussion at the ASD school board meeting at the administration building, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. Bill Shirley | For the Leader Times
Bill Shirley
The future of the Elderton complex was a topic of discussion at the ASD school board meeting at the administration building, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. Bill Shirley | For the Leader Times

Elderton Junior-Senior High School will remain empty, at least a little longer.

Armstrong School District solicitor Lee Price said at the beginning of Monday's school board meeting that the directors had decided to pull a controversial resolution to lease portions of the building to the Adelphoi Village alternative education program.

The board announced the one-year, $90,000 lease proposal during its open caucus last week.

“After further review of the lease terms and conditions, there is insufficient support to even have it on the agenda any longer,” said Price. “That matter is being pulled completely.”

Price's statement was met with scattered applause from a large group of residents who turned out to oppose the lease, but he stressed the decision should not reflect poorly on Adelphoi Village.

“That's not to imply that the district doesn't believe Adelphoi operates a good alternative education program,” he said. “In fact, most of the kids in the program are our students. But (the board directors) just don't feel that it would be appropriate to have that at the location out in the Elderton area.”

Adelphoi Village is a not-for-profit child care agency based out of Latrobe that works with children who are struggling to overcome social, emotional and behavioral difficulties. Many of the opponents expressed concern about the fact that Elderton Elementary School still operates in another part of the high school building, and Price said that may have been a factor in the district's decision.

“Although there's a separation of the building internally, they just didn't feel comfortable with it at this point in time,” he said after the meeting. “Money was not the only factor.”

However, there were other residents present who opposed the Adelphoi lease for another reason. The proposed Everlasting Elderton Charter School has expressed interest in renting the facilities from ASD if the charter is approved.

Amanda Bartosiewicz, a member of Everlasting Elderton's founding board, said although the charter application submitted last month listed Towne Hall along Route 422 as a possible location for the school, the high school would be preferable.

She said ASD has ignored the charter school's request to rent the space.

“We have sent several communications to the administration asking to open communication about leasing a portion of the Elderton High School building,” she said.

“When you're filling out an application to open a charter school, you must have a letter of intent (from a location) to even submit an application. When we contacted the administration, it would not give us a letter of intent to lease. Although the Towne Hall is a beautiful building, it is not our first consideration. Our first consideration is the Elderton High School building.”

Bartosiewicz also said that Everlasting Elderton has budgeted more to rent the building than the $90,000 proposed by Adelphoi. However, the charter still

must be approved or denied by the ASD board which has until March 12 to announce its decision. In the event the charter is denied, Everlasting Elderton can appeal to the state if it collects the signatures of 1,000 residents or 2 percent of the district.

If the charter is approved, ASD projects the district would have to pay approximately $2 million more towards charter schools in its annual budget than it would if it's denied.

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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