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East Allegheny to close school, superintendent to retire

| Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015, 4:41 a.m.
East Allegheny School District is considering closing and selling Green Valley Primary School in North Versailles.
Trib Total Media
East Allegheny School District is considering closing and selling Green Valley Primary School in North Versailles.
Superintendent Roger A. D'Emidio (right) prepares for Monday's East Allegheny school board meeting at which his retirement was accepted with regret. Assistant to the superintendent Donald MacFann (left) will succeed D'Emidio on the condition that he get a superintendent's certification from the state Department of Education by June 30.
Patrick Cloonan | Trib Total Media
Superintendent Roger A. D'Emidio (right) prepares for Monday's East Allegheny school board meeting at which his retirement was accepted with regret. Assistant to the superintendent Donald MacFann (left) will succeed D'Emidio on the condition that he get a superintendent's certification from the state Department of Education by June 30.

East Allegheny school board took three notable actions at its meeting Monday.

It revisited a bond refinancing it approved two months ago; took an official first step toward closing Green Valley Primary School; and approved effective June 30 the retirement of Superintendent Roger A. D'Emidio.

The board “acknowledges and commends the meritorious, sincere and dedicated service” that D'Emidio “gave to the school district for 20 years,” said a resolution approved unanimously.

D'Emidio was the district's longtime business manager — and for a time acting superintendent before the hiring of the late Dr. Thomas A. Knight in 1998.

D'Emidio was elevated to superintendent in his own right in 2005 when Knight resigned to go to Bethel Park, where he served as superintendent until his death in 2011.

Former Clairton High School principal Donald MacFann, an East Allegheny administrator since 2009, will succeed D'Emidio, provided that he has a letter of eligibility by June 30 from the state Department of Education.

D'Emidio's daughter Betsy, a former Bethel Park teacher hired in 2012 as assistant high school principal, will be promoted to succeed MacFann as head high school principal and assistant to the superintendent.

All of those motions were unanimous, but there were 8-1 votes on the bond and Green Valley issues.

Board member Frank B. Pearsol III was the sole dissenter on a move long expected but not made official until Monday night, to close the 50-year-old Green Valley building off East Pittsburgh-McKeesport Boulevard in North Versailles.

Monday's vote starts in motion what is needed to transition the kindergarten and first- through third-grade classes to what now is Logan Middle School, which will continue to serve fourth through sixth grades as well.

Seventh- and eighth-grade classes will be moved down the hill from Logan to East Allegheny High School.

One reason is a shrinking district. At a town hall in December, Green Valley and Logan grade 4-6 principal Sean Gildea said enrollment has dropped by 12 percent in the past 10 years.

D'Emidio said in November that closing Green Valley could save the district up to $1.2 million.

“It's still a good school, still in good shape,” North Versailles Commissioner Sam Juliano, who represents the township ward that includes Green Valley, said in October. “I think (school directors) should do everything in their power to save that school.”

Board member Frederick Miller in December voted against the refinancing of a 2006 district bond issue, and was the lone no vote again Monday, as the district tries again to achieve cash savings on the bond market.

The district's bond counsel Wayne D. Gerhold and Piper Jaffray & Co. senior vice president W. Randall Frederick again will try to reissue $9,035,000 worth of bonds out of an outstanding amount of $11,280,000 from 2006.

District business manager Toni Valicenti said the December move fell through because the market didn't allow a cash savings of $642,356 for capital projects.

“Certain numbers hadn't worked out as we anticipated,” Gerhold said.

A smaller amount will be sought when the reissue is offered Wednesday.

“We at Piper Jaffray are going to work as hard as we can to get you $360,000,” Frederick said. “We're hoping to get you over $400,000 for the school district.”

In other business, the board gave final approval to a new policy requiring employees and visitors to have identification cards when in East Allegheny district buildings.

The new policy is available for review until Feb. 27 at the district administration office, adjacent to the high school.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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