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Gateway School District officials to discuss closing middle school

Dillon Carr
| Thursday, June 14, 2018, 12:45 p.m.
Current shot of the exterior of Gateway High School showing the nameing of the Robert A. Read Performing Arts Center signage.  Lillian DeDomenic  |  For The Tribne Review
Current shot of the exterior of Gateway High School showing the nameing of the Robert A. Read Performing Arts Center signage. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribne Review

Gateway School District administrators and school board members will discuss closing one of the district's two middle schools at a meeting Thursday night.

School director Mary Beth Cirucci said board members will listen to a presentation about the administration's plan to close Moss Side Middle School, which houses 486 fifth and sixth graders.

The public meeting will start at 6 p.m. in the high school's Large Group Instruction room. Cirucci said the meeting will be recorded and posted on the district's website.

“We've been talking about this for years, so we want to begin to move forward on it,” Cirucci said.”The very soonest it could close would be the following school year, 2019-20.”

School director Rick McIntyre said closing Moss Side Middle School is part of the board's long-term plan, which includes reorganizing the district's fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades because of declining enrollment and the deteriorating condition of the Moss Side and Gateway Middle School buildings.

Gateway Middle School was listed for sale in March without a listing price by a marketing firm the district hired in April 2017.

Val Warning, a school director who sits on the district's buildings and grounds committee, said no prospective buyers have stepped forward.

“It's kinda hard to sell something if there's no price on it,” Warning said, adding the board will determine a price soon.

The 26-acre property is zoned residential and has an assessed market value of $13.4 million, according to county real estate records.

“Whether we sell Gateway Middle School or not, we have to have a plan in place of how to handle maintenance, upgrades and getting the facilities up to snuff,” McIntyre said.

Currently, he said, the plan includes closing Moss Side and having fifth graders attend classes in the district's four elementary schools. Sixth graders would be moved to Gateway Middle School with the district's 524 seventh and eighth graders.

“If we don't sell Gateway Middle School, we would have to choose between the two on where the students would go. Between the two buildings, the choice would probably be Gateway Middle School,” McIntyre said, adding the property has more amenities for students.

The long-term goal is to build a new facility for grades six, seven and eight because the cost to maintain both middle school buildings is too steep, the board has indicated.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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