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Armstrong School District mulls drilling leases

| Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 8:42 a.m.

Armstrong School District officials are hoping that a partial solution to the district's financial woes could be underfoot.

The school board is considering entering into a two-year lease with two Kittanning-based natural gas companies to drill on the fringes of ASD-owned land in Manor Township.

During Monday night's regular meeting, solicitor Anthony Sanchez presented the board with a suggestion to authorize the administration to work on an agreement with MDS Energy Development and Snyder Bros. Inc.

“MDS Energy is offering to acquire oil and gas leasing rights from the Armstrong School District in regard to its 49-acre tract (where Lenape Elementary sits) in Manor Township,” Sanchez said.

“And Snyder Bros. Inc. have offered to acquire oil and gas leasing rights from Lenape Vo-Tech in regard to its 43-acre tract.”

Because the tracts are adjacent and the energy companies are owned by members of the same family, Sanchez said the district could work out similar and mutually beneficial agreements for both sites.

“MDS Energy and Snyder Bros. believe they can jointly maximize gas production,” Sanchez said.

“The resulting royalties by combining their efforts would have the district and Lenape Vo-Tech share equally in all royalties.”

Although no agreement is in place, Superintendent Stan Chapp said the district projects it could earn up to $1.5 million on it during the next 15 to 20 years.

Board President Joe Close said that, if approved, drilling could begin on the land by the summer of 2014.

“They're confident they could start drilling by then,” Close said.

“We're trying to do what we can to bring some money in.”

In other news, Sanchez presented the board with a suggestion to obtain sealed bids for the demolition of the former Shannock Valley High School and warehouse in Rural Valley.

Sanchez said the board previously deemed the property “unused and unnecessary for school purposes.”

The demolition will not, however, include the school's gymnasium and garage/woodworking area.

“We're hopeful there can be some community effort to try to preserve those two things so that the community can use them in some manner after the rest is demolished,” Close said. “

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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