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McClure to open 2 days after other McKeesport schools

| Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011

An expanded Francis McClure school complex in White Oak will open two school days later than the rest of the McKeesport Area School District.

On Wednesday, MASD's board of directors approved an Aug. 29 opening day for 650 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders attending McClure, where work has gone on since December on a $8.3 million expansion project.

While the work could be speeded up to open on time Aug. 25, superintendent Dr. Timothy M. Gabauer said, "it would be a little bit rushed toward the end."

Gabauer said the two additional days will allow teachers and maintenance crews enough time to ready the older intermediate portion of McClure, as well as the first floor of the new portion of the school.

"It is a small sample of what we are going to see in our whole district," Gabauer said.

General Industries of Charleroi is principal contractor for what is the first of three projects that will give the district elementary-intermediate complexes in White Oak, McKeesport's Seventh Ward and near Renziehausen Park.

The rest of the district, including fourth-graders at Centennial and White Oak elementary schools, will report for classes as scheduled, one week from today.

Assistant superintendent Dr. Rula Skezas said fourth-graders going to McClure would have gone to George Washington Elementary School but it is only big enough for expected kindergarten and first-, second- and third-grade classes.

A contract has been approved for building the Seventh Ward complex. Board finance chairman Thomas Maglicco urged the board to consider delaying work on the school complex now proposed near Renzie Park, to see if there was a need for it and because of the cost that may be involved.

Based on consultation with district investment banker Janney Montgomery Scott, Maglicco said the district will need at least 4.1 mills in new taxes or reduced costs to cover all three complexes. In MASD, 1 mill nets approximately $730,000.

The board also approved $59,284.92 in change orders for the McClure project as well as $62,117.80 worth of equipment to expand wireless Internet coverage in the new section of McClure to the older part of the White Oak school.

MCPc Technology Products and Solutions will provide the Internet equipment under a contract funded by Title I money coming out of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The board also approved the transfer of Thomas R. Knight from assistant principal at Founders Hall Middle School to assistant principal at McClure.

Paul A. Sebelia will move under that same action from roaming assistant elementary school principal to Founders Hall assistant principal.

Keith Murphy of the McKeesport Political American African Committee again pressed issues raised at last week's board meeting/

He noted that there were two stories published in The Daily News concerning those matters.

About school board president Wayne Washowich's confirmation that he intends to submit a letter of resignation next month, Murphy asked the board if it could accept it based on the newspaper report or declare Washowich's seat vacant. Solicitor Gary J. Matta said no to both.

If Washowich resigned before Sept. 9, Matta said, the Democratic and Republican parties could choose nominees for a special election, to coincide with the November general election, to fill the last two years of Washowich's term.

Washowich indicated that he would resign in time for the Sept. 21 workshop.

Matta said the board then will choose his successor.

If no successor is named within 30 days, someone can petition Allegheny County Common Pleas Court to fill the seat.

Murphy questioned if the entire school board agreed that no wrongdoing occurred when a Ford Business Machines representative addressed a school board executive session July 13.

"We are concerned that not only is the bidding process compromised but also the Fair Labor Standards Act," Murphy said.

Matta said the district used a bidding process authorized by the state Department of General Services.

Ford Business Machines is an approved vendor in the COSTARS cooperative purchasing program.

"It's a cost-saving to the district," Matta said.

The board also approved contributions of $20,000 each in November and April to Carnegie Library of McKeesport.

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