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New School Plan Underway in ASD

L.R. Kimball K-12 Market Segment Leader John Hummel answered questions from concerned parents and taxpayers during a nearly-30 minute question-and-answer session last night.

Armstrong School District Board President Joseph Close reviews projected cost savings to the District if they were to follow the new plan, which calls for the District to spend more than $55 million for a new high school while closing Kittanning Jr. High, Kittanning Sr. High and Ford City Jr. - Sr. High, at minimum.

by Jonathan Weaver

Only one option on the Armstrong School District’s ‘white canvas’ remains, and Board members are circling it multiple times.

By a 7-1 vote, school board directors instructed L.R. Kimball architects to continue plans that would eventually close Kittanning Junior High, Kittanning Senior High and Ford City Jr. – Sr. High and build a new 7-12th grade school.

The school is expected to be open for the 2015-16 school year.

Concerned parents who had questions about the plan watched from the conference room and hallway television monitors. Those concerns were addressed by architects in a nearly-30 minute question-and-answer session before the action was approved.  

L.R. Kimball K-12 Market Segment Leader John Hummel said all questions could not be answered right away.

“At this point, we’re very preliminary in the process. The Board will be expected to review and approve more detailed plans for the building at various stages as we move forward,” Hummel said. “Each time you’ll be getting more accurate and detailed information.”

Hummel did say that the new school will be as safe as can be.

“We can’t fight Mother Nature any more than we can fight the price of gas, but we know what state-of-the-art is in terms of compliance and safety. We don’t want to put up a cheap building; we want to put up a building that is almost as permanent as you have gotten a lot of service out of for a century, Hummel said, referring to Ford City Jr. – Sr. High which was built in 1909.

“The intention is to design a high-performance building, a sustainable building,” Hummel continued.

The estimated-$55.6 million school building will be designed to teach a maximum-1,775 students, which was calculated based on current building enrollment, more than 80 secondary students from Kittanning Township and 25 from Rayburn Township.

That cost estimate did not include athletic facilities or land acquisition cost, but Board President Joseph Close reminded attendees that two sites have been offered to the school district at no cost. He said that might help generate more savings to the District.

“Certainly the cost was considered when these options were being reviewed. The operating cost savings was a huge factor,” Close said.

Close estimated a staff savings of $16 million during the next five years and was optimistic there would be energy and maintenance savings as well.

Board Director D. Royce Smeltzer was more concerned with student opportunity and voted ‘no’ on the resolution in large part due to the new school not including all of the Elderton attendance area.

“We have the opportunity to fix the problem that’s been in our district forever. Everyone sitting here is dropping the ball,” Smeltzer said. “I’ll be voting ‘no’ on the resolution.”

Last week, Smeltzer requested preliminary approval from Board members to allow Borough officials in Plumcreek Township, South Bend Township and Elderton Borough to explore different school district options and possibly secede from the Armstrong School District.

A formal motion for that request did not have to be made, according to Solicitor John Smart of Andrews and Price, LLC in Pittsburgh. He said those or other municipalities are always able to explore the possibility if there is community support.

A community meeting at the Towne Hall in Elderton is scheduled for March 21 at 6PM to gather further input.

School Superintendent Stan Chapp repeated that students from the Elderton attendance area or any that would currently attend West Shamokin High would be eligible to transfer to the new school. But not all of them.

“If there were more dollars there, it could’ve been bigger. We want to offer as much opportunity for people to transfer, based on how much money is there,” Chapp said.

Other local residents were also concerned and did not agree with the resolution, including Adam Grafton of Shelocta and Manorville Mayor Todd Gladysiewski.

Grafton said he expected more from the Board directors to brainstorm a method that would treat all students in all municipalities equally.

“The clean whiteboard of ideas to be considered was a charade to lead residents to think that the Board was going to proceed with the best plan available when in-fact the decision to build the new high school had already been made,” Grafton said.

Mayor Todd Gladysiewski of 402 Water Street in Manorville recalled architects referred to Ford City Jr. – Sr. High as a ‘fortress’ and ‘stable’ – even being used as a bomb shelter in World War II – but were not recommending closure. He disagreed.

“I think we’re making a very-bad mistake. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with our schools,” Gladysiewski said. “I personally wouldn’t tear down my house to build a new house if I just had to fix it up a little bit. I hope you guys reconsider.”

He said the news of more job cuts made this year and a low per-capita income County-wide also support his opinion.

Following the meeting, Hummel said he expected the detailed questions from local parents.

“For a high school project – really any project – there are always people that have questions. Generally, the questions are more detail than answers that can be provided at this point, but each time we come back we’ll have more-and-more detail,” Hummel said. “It’s good they have selected an option we can concentrate on – the next big decision will probably be on which site.”

Hummel said the site location will allow architects to be more-detailed in drawings.

L.R. Kimball architects will be back in the area in two weeks when they present the plan to concerned parents during a public meeting March 26 at Lenape Elementary. Board directors will hear input on possibly closing Elderton K-12 and/or Kittanning Township Elementary at that time.

The public meeting is slated to begin at 7PM.

Board members heard from many concerned parents and taxpayers during their regular monthly meeting last night and will likely hear from them again during a public hearing March 26 about the possibility of closing Elderton K-12 and/or Kittanning Township Elementary before the beginning of next school year.

  • By GetSmart, March 22, 2012 @ 10:48 PM

    @ Lisa

    I have no school age children – but I bet I pay a lot more in school taxes than people in Elderton with the same size house.

    You are saying the people of Elderton prefer less educational opportunities in exchange for smaller class size?

  • By Elliot, March 22, 2012 @ 10:52 PM

    Elderton Parent-

    “Have any of these parents been informed about any of this? I bet not.”

    Of course not. Nothing has been decided yet. What exactly should they be informed of? “Dear Parent, Uh, yeah, there’s a possibility that maybe we might consider moving your child from this school to that school in, uh, about three years. But we don’t know for sure, and things might change, or well, we’ll let you know once we figure it all out, uh, that is if everthing gets approved.”

    “With closing these schools, what exactly is going to be done in order to provide our students with a better education in a cost-effective manner?”

    Hey, I’d settle for SAME education in a MORE cost-effective manner (as a first step).

  • By wakeup, March 22, 2012 @ 11:48 PM

    How low does the student population in Elderton need to drop before it no longer makes sense to operate that school? Should that same number be used to open schools back up that we’re once closed?

    I am curious if worthington high school would have greater attendance than Elderton with more school age children?

  • By Lancret, March 23, 2012 @ 6:11 AM

    Isn’t funny and ironic that the more I read the posts by Elliot, the more I don’t trust this current board. Things are now being perceived as being very “slick.”

    Once again, this is all spin.

    Although I support an all-district consolidated senior high school, but I got a feeling we better hang on to our wallets. Crooked land deals, hidden expenses, etc.

  • By jerry6, March 23, 2012 @ 8:19 AM

    I personally know of a lot of familys from KT who was aginst closing Elderton when there kids had to go to Ford City. But, after they went to Ford City, these kids did not want to go back to Elderton. They had no transportation to get to Ford City. I also had a girl who is from Ford City who went to school with these kids from KT who said these kids do not want to go back to Elderton. Solak and company made sure there were enough kids to help Elderton with there attendence to help Elderton have a few more kids. I think if the parents would let the kids alone, these kids adjust very well to a new school.

  • By Elliot, March 23, 2012 @ 8:25 AM

    Jorn-

    I agree with your statements. While Marcellus gas is the best reason for economic optimism in my lifetime, I don’t advocate overbuilding a school because of it. I need to see more money flowing and evidence of new investment before I ignore 40 years of population decline.

    I will say, however, that I haven’t yet jumped on the “coal is dead” bandwagon. We still need it, no matter what the environmentalists say. In the summer of 2008 (I think), Rosebud cut jobs and then hired back even more a few months later.

  • By Elliot, March 23, 2012 @ 8:31 AM

    wakeup-

    Good point. To help answer the question of what the “right number” is, Worthington had a graduating class of 27 in 1983. It was closed in 1984.

  • By JornJensen, March 23, 2012 @ 9:52 AM

    Elliot – Correct, that Jan is correct about Butler County and you are correct in your assumption that I do know that, and I agree with the rest of your statement in that post.

    So, with Butler County so close, and probably a great role model, why can’t we learn something from them over here in Armstrong County? Yes, I know the commissioners have created the position to go after business and industry – that is a step in the right direction. What about meeting with Butler County commissioners?

    Back a while ago was the discussion on Caterpillar coming to Armstrong County. Not. Nor would they go to Butler County and for the same reasons that I’ve stated in the past that have ruffled the feathers of our union friends – right-to-work states are getting the big players wanting to lower their costs.

    But, Butler County is doing something else right – what is that?

  • By wakeup, March 23, 2012 @ 3:14 PM

    Butler County has lower taxes and a better school system BECAUSE IT IS NOT A BATTLE FIELD. How more plainly can I state this…Given the choice parents will not relocate children into this dysfunctional school district. As an outsider given the choice would you?

    As far as industry moving to a town and the area magically booms over night; it rarely happens that way in today’s world. A lot of people in Armstrong County have this mentality that governs their policy and it clearly is not working. Look at Ford City…the area is politically corrupt over the “goldmine property” along the river that truthfully no one would want. Unless you need river access why would you put industry there? Accessibility?

    Growth comes more slowly as a result of families relocating to an area with low taxes, a good school system and easy access to major arteries. It is this environment that in turn stimulates business/industries to spring up to support the population growth. This in turn will lead to JOBS and a larger tax base. Cranberry Twp. is a great example, this area did not boom because of industry. In fact industry sprung up because families saw it as a good place to live and it grew over time. Industry like Westinghouse with thousands of jobs eventually relocated there for these very reasons. If you are moving thousands of employees to an area what would be important to you? Tax breaks, sure, but high on that list is a top rate area that attracts top rate talent!

    You would be hard pressed to find an area in Western PA that is growing solely due to industry moving there first. How did that Sony thing work out for New Stanton? There are however, plenty of case studies of areas that are growing because families move there for low taxes, good school systems, and easy access to major arteries. Peters Twp., Mars, South Fayette, Cannon Macmillan and even Freeport (look at this area in 10 years). All areas experiencing growth and lower taxes than ASD as families locate there and service industry springs up to support them.

    Of the thousand of families that moved here from other states due to the gas industry how many locate their families to Armstrong County versus neighboring counties like these?

    You want the high income families that build $250k to $500k value homes and pay high taxes…those people are very much interested in schools and I am sorry but the decade old battle within Armstrong School District just does not cut it. So you want lower taxes stop arguing over “schools” and start attracting people to increase the tax base.

  • By wakeup, March 23, 2012 @ 3:17 PM

    Lets go further ….. with 28 finally opening up…is Armstrong County prepared to attract families to relocate there and work towards the city?

    I understand “politically” the “west side” of the county is taboo to many but if this area really wants to get serious and attract the people that will pay the kind or taxes needed to get this area back on track put the school near the intersection of 28 and 422. Look at it this way, Armstrong County is in completion for the tax base that is attracted to Freeport and may work from home or down 28. What is going to draw a family 15 minutes north to Armstrong County? There kids in a school 15 – 20 minutes further east?

    As far as those that currently live in the east…..expand West Shamokin to equal the new school on the West Side. Two equal in capacity high schools on equally opposite ends of the county, West Armstrong High School and East Armstrong High School. Then you can have your community Elementary schools feeding these two High Schools.

    I mean logically does it really make sense to have both high schools on the east side? If the area does see growth were would that growth be, near Indiana or near Bulter County Line? Busing is a huge cost so why bus everyone from the west to the east? That’s right politically we have to keep certain people happy that have a complex about the “West Hills”? Come on people get over your selves and start making prudent decisions!

  • By Tankster, March 23, 2012 @ 4:54 PM

    Butler County has alot of unionized jobs and one of the best per capita in the Commonwealth and they are also in top percentile of bringing in new business compared to other counties. It is not unionized labor keeping Armstrong County behind. That is failed logic. If that were true, businesses would be moving out of Butler County not into it.

  • By GetSmart, March 23, 2012 @ 5:29 PM

    I believe East Brady consistantly had larger graduating classes when it was closed than what Elderton now has.

  • By worthingtonman, March 23, 2012 @ 5:47 PM

    @Jorn
    Butler county is heading down the same road that Armstrong is. Fortunately they have Armco to help. But they have been losing a lot of power play industry. In East Butler alone Magnetics is just a shadow of what it used to be. Cattle Rubbernis gone also. There are many more if you looked into. The School district does better because they have one high school and one junior high. But even the have been suffering from lower enrollment. They used to graduate1200 or more kids. They are now down around 900. They are probably going to have to start looking at consolidating elementary schools.

  • By Lancret, March 23, 2012 @ 7:23 PM

    @wakeup

    You stated exactly what we do not need. You said it eloquently.

    We do not need to try and push one area to become prosperous while sacrificing the other parts of the county or district.

    A well-rounded county is what will turn around Armstrong County.

    They tried pushing the West Hills goobedly-gook for 30 years now and it has went nowhere.

    Make the county attractive as a whole and invest in infrastructure and opportunities in more than area.

    You could not have a better case of why your theory about West Hills is failed logic for the ENTIRE county.

    Thank you.

  • By Lancret, March 23, 2012 @ 7:27 PM

    @wakeup

    And if you want an example to support my theory…look no further than Northpointe. West side of river……grand access to Route 28. Kids could be schooled at Freeport not necessarily Armstrong.

    Total failure. Why? It meets all your criteria. Throwing more money into the west side of the river will do nothing for economic growth. Most of the county needs a makeover. Dumping more money into the West Hills dream is just sacrificing one area for all of the rest based on greed.

  • By worthingtonman, March 23, 2012 @ 7:44 PM

    If there is so much west side of the river envy, don’t people just move there. It is so tiring people complain about things on the west side of the river and nothing on the east. It is a river for Christ sakes. Maybe a 1/16th of a mile? who the he’ll cares if you drive 5 mins to work or an hour. North point was placed where it is because #1 the land was cheap and # 2 the access to 28. why in the world would you build a new 4 Lane highway to put something along 422w. I live on the west side of the river and drive. 1/2 hour to work. Big deal. It gets so ridiculous to hear about the whining over which side of the river something goes on.

  • By wakeup, March 23, 2012 @ 8:14 PM

    Sir lancerlot- THE ENTIRE COUNTY HAS GONE NOWHERE thanks to people like minded as you! In fact every area has declined but the area were 422 and 28 meet! The biggest thing to come to this area in past 30 years was Walmart…wonder why they did not choose down town ford city or ” the easily accessible area near Lenape property! Come on man stop with the envy and pride and use some logic. Put youself in the shoes of people you want to attract to share in the tax burden!

  • By wakeup, March 23, 2012 @ 10:18 PM

    Northpointe is a business park not a housing development? I am talking about attracting families that make good money and live in nice houses that pay a lot of taxes and either commute to work, travel for work or work from home. The idea of attracting industry you have to give a incentive of little to no taxes is not going to help bring down taxes. So I guess I missed your point on that one.

  • By JornJensen, March 24, 2012 @ 11:01 AM

    Worthingtonman – You are correct that Butler is headed down our route – Spang (Magnetics), the rubber rolls people, Servi-Star Distribution Center and others – but Cranberry and Wexford are doing just fine, and without looking it up on a map, I believe those are both in Butler County and they grew by avoiding the Allegheny County higher-than-anybody taxes (remember the Onorato drink tax? And he wanted to be governor? Voters took care of that in a hurry), yet was close to ‘the city’. Same for the Freeport point – that’s Butler County and that’s where the new houses and development are, and easy access to 28 and ‘the city’. Agree, thank goodness for AK still being there – they haven’t packed up and gone on down the road.

    The point is, high taxes keep people away. So, for those who want more and more handed to them by the government, the time comes to pay the piper in the form of higher taxes.

    One of my favorite cases-in-point is the new EOC building that we’re mandated to have by some government agency. We have plenty of empty buildings that we could put that function into and save taxpayers money, but no, it will be a brand-new Al-Queda-proof building at the taxpayers’ expense. No matter who mandates it, even if money comes with the mandate, it’s the taxpayer that coughs up the money. Like Murtha amphitheater.

    Elliot – Nowhwere did I state’over-building a school is justified on Marcellus gas’ – I hope you didn’t read my comment that way. We’re already in so deep, that my comment is that the gas is holding the most promise to get us from so much negative to level (zero) – to grow to the plus side of the equation would be excellent, but we still need to get back up to zero. Agree, coal is not dead.

    Tankster – Nowhere did I state that unionized labor is keeping work out of Armstrong County – hope you didn’t read that into my question regarding why Butler County is doing better than us. David Wolfe tried to bring in the mirror company from Brackenridge – the old LOF mirror company – unionized – to Northpointe. Armstrong County management blew that one – they wouldn’t negotiate. I understand that Northpointe needs sold ‘higher-end’ so as to not cheat those that have already paid highly into it, but these are times for tough decisions, not times for ‘going by the rulebook’.

    Regarding building a new school in the west idea, you all present good pros and cons. I’ll just say that Wal*Mart built their initial store, and now their Super Wal*Mart, in a known location – those people do a lot of high-end research in making their decisions to locate a ‘building’. They wouldn’t have added onto an existing building if it wasn’t a good location choice in the first place. Question becomes – go to West Kittanning Wal*Mart or Indiana Wal*Mart? Or other ones? Or, not at all.

  • By Jerri, March 24, 2012 @ 11:59 AM

    GetSmart-Please provide the data for your statement concerning East Brady and their graduating classes. Do you know that the graduating class at Elderton is almost the same size as West Shamokin this year and almost double from last year? Maybe if this nonsensical “build a new school and they will come” attitude wasn’t around and we had stability for our students, we wouldn’t have to be discussing small graduating classes.

    Did it ever occur to anyone that the simplest way to solve the problems would be to keep and reasonably renovate the schools we own, close the Kittanning Junior High, and change lines across the district thus relieving crowded classrooms and fully utilizing the buildings we have without destroying communities? Oh wait, a Kittanning kid may have to move and we all know this is board would never allow that.

    Lancret-Exactly. Northpointe was one of the biggest mistakes this county ever did. Taking the IUP out of Kittanning along with the college students and all the money a college can bring to a town was ridiculous. Look at who owned the Northpointe property first. Look at when they bought that property and when Northpointe was built. It’s the same people that have financial interest in the West Hills dream and the possible donated property for the new school. Speaking of the new school, I found an interview with Amy Lhote while running for school board. She told Jennifer Willyard in the interview on a certain website that a new school hadn’t been discussed since the 2007 charette and called it the “mythical new school”. Now she wants to close schools and build the new school in less than two months discussion. Good job, Amy.

  • By Jerri, March 24, 2012 @ 12:13 PM

    GetSmart-I just read your statement that you pay a lot more for school taxes than a person in Elderton with the same size house!!! Are you kidding me??? Are you that stupid? Yes I’m sorry but that is probably one of the most stupid statements I have ever seen on this board. I am sure you are saying your assessed value may be more but if that is the case, that is because you are living in the only part of the district that’s been catered to by the idiots that have been in charge of this district for too long. That means, you have an over-priced elementary school, a possible new high school, the hospital, the mighty Walmart, and other conveniences near you. If that is the case, then you are paying for that. To make a statement such as people in Elderton don’t pay the same as you is ridiculous and arrogant. You are as bad as the boy from East Franklin that dated my cousin’s daughter. He walked in their house and told her “wow, I didn’t know people from Elderton could have such nice houses.” True story. My cousin said “Well, the truth is, that we don’t really own this house. It’s our rich relatives from Kittanning that take pity on us and let us live here in the winter because the dirt floor in our shack is cold this time of year!” Honestly, knock off the superiority and get your facts straight. Did you ever see an actual Elderton person’s tax bill for a similar home? I bet not.

    You are a perfect example of the lunacy of the People for Progress’s attitude. I have a copy of their mission statement where these snobs actually say that studies show businesses move to places where people make more than $60K per year and people that make more than $60K per year will move here if we build a new school. It also goes on that the average ASD household makes around $37K per year. This was while they were campaigning for Rearic and Choncek and the new school board is People for Progress supporters. Amy Lhote said in testimony posted on the ASD website that she and Gretchen Dosch did the legwork for People for Progress. Yes, they are totally in touch with the average taxpayer. No, they just want the typical ASD riffraff out so they can have “their type of people” here.

  • By Jerri, March 24, 2012 @ 12:25 PM

    In all the posts I’ve read I forgot who posted about the teacher contract and Close, Choncek, and Rearic voting on it. It is correct that this contract was used as the model for other teachers negotiating because it was so lucrative for the teacher’s union. That’s the same reason why the AEA sent out a letter to all teachers living in the district regardless of what district they taught in to support the Silent Six during election (Rearic, Choncek, Lobby, Robb, Berdell, and Lhote). The union leaders (Burkett, Scaife, Huffman, etc.) wanted a board in their pocket for next teacher negotiations, which will be coming up soon. They also support one high school because those in charge know that they can sell the false concept of saving money and thus not take so much heat for the huge increases and pension they can secure. The ones negotiating have enough tenure that their jobs are safe. Look at how Burkett retired after the teachers union, ahem, so generously offered nice retirement packages in order to save some teachers job when the last school board cut about 60 employees.

    As I said before, Berdell has a blabber mouth. Just wait until you see the new school board member they’ve picked. A former teacher from West Shamokin. Just in time for the teachers contract. Their five minute interviews with all candidates next Thursday is just a formality. And speaking of which, the five-minute interview process shows this board doesn’t even feel this position is worthy of taking the time to actually interview. It’s the same as Lobby sending out an email that he feels 10 minutes is a long time for people to speak at the joke of a hearing on Monday night. I hope people from Ford City, West Shamokin, Kittanning High
    Schools all realize that Monday night is the ONLY opportunity that will count to speak to keep their schools open. By the time they have closure hearings for those schools, it will be just a technicality. The mighty Snyder High will be built.

  • By Lancret, March 25, 2012 @ 5:46 PM

    Thanks, Jorn for answering the questions at hand.

    I understand your premise with Wal-Mart but it is the only department store around here…it would not make sense to “not” add on to it. What are the other options?

    I think you understand that the rest of the county is going into the dumpster real quick and dumping money and infrastructure into the west side of the river has not stopped it in fact has gotten worse.

    We need to look for several areas to sprout some growth and like Jorn, make it more business friendly.

    You can call it whining or telling the truth, it is not envy. Sometimes the truth hurts, but the west side revival has been a complete failure. There are many different perspectives and assumptions as to why this has occurred, but I do not know if we will ever know the whole truth of the matter.

    As for the snide remark about the Lenape property….that was the opinion of the former superintendent who did have a progressive outlook for the school district.

    “…wonder why they did not choose down town ford city or ” the easily accessible area near Lenape property!

    Look at the malice in this statement.

    Now, do we really have to wonder why things cannot get completed in this district?

    It is winner take all and who cares about the rest even if common sense could prevail.

  • By JornJensen, March 25, 2012 @ 7:29 PM

    Lancret – Good points. Wal*Mart will do well where it is – there really aren’t any other great options – was going to come out Worthington-way, but that fell through. And I agree with you, the west hasn’t ‘saved’ Armstrong County. That’s why I support David Wolfe’s effort to bring in the old LOF mirror outfit and discount the site for them – it would have been one more tenant/employer in Northpointe. And, yes, I’m not a democrat – that should be pretty obvious by my leanings on this site. Beautiful 4 lane 65 mph road south to a congested mess – easy access to ‘the city’ for Armstrong Countyians looking for work. I look at Butler County’s lower taxes and Worthingtonman is correct – they’re headed down the same road as Armstrong County. It is very competitive, today, to bring in ‘work’, manufacturing or whatever, so it takes some really sharp people in government to differentiate Armstrong County from other areas.

    Jerri – You’ve been really busy above – lot of good information. On your 11:59 AM, if we brought in work and lowered taxes, they will come. Building a new school or remodeling ALL old ones won’t bring them, especially if taxes rise more.

    The downside to keeping even some of the old schools is accessability as Elliot has stated – that is a strong point.

    People making both over and under $60k, if they have any sense at all, will price tax costs on comparable properties, county by county, and then select where they want to live and drive to/from. The mortgage eventually goes away, the taxes just go up, so it is the taxes that one has to be weary of.

    I was particularly disappointed to read your statement that the present school board has already hand-picked a retired teacher for Sara Yassam’s seat – this would further worsen the results of her departure – I still say that was a mistake on her part. I had planned to submit my name to a sitting judge for that seat since I felt that this board is not qualified to interview me and assuming that the school board would not get a person that fast, but I guess that I should have known better – that ‘hand-picking’ an occupant for that seat would be a high priority. I still think the State needs to get involved with this mess and put the clamps down.

    If there isn’t a teacher pay/benefits cut in this next contract, then they’ll just price themselves further out onto a weak limb if we had a strong school board.

  • By nonamerequired, March 25, 2012 @ 9:26 PM

    Elliot- Your statement is very telling…”But we don’t know for sure, and things might change, or well, we’ll let you know once we figure it all out, uh, that is if everthing gets approved.”. Not telling anyone a thing until after it’s approved, and any voice we may have is lost, seems par for the course.  I would say input from the public isn’t much of a consideration from this board anymore.  That sounds almost the opposite of what then candidate Chris Choncek said on May 11, 2011:  

    “Parents and taxpayers are becoming more engaged with school district business. They are holding the Armstrong School Board more accountable to its decisions and direction. It’s especially encouraging to see this in all areas of the school district, not just in one municipality or attendance area. It is my hope as we move forward that we can continue to keep the community engaged and seek their input as we try to improve the education in our district while still being responsible to the taxpayers.”

  • By nonamerequired, March 25, 2012 @ 9:44 PM

    Jorn- You hit the nail on the head with the whole WalMart theory, however, maybe not the one people automatically assume.  The big corporation that is taking over America, providing garbage at low, low prices will be the death of us.  It will take innovative, think outside the box people and government to get this country and county back on track.  Starting at the local level right on up.  We need to attract businesses that make products for Americans by Americans.  We can pay more for American made because we get paid more to make it.  In our communities!!  Getting back to basics on all fronts will be necessary to see any positive change.  Now, I don’t think this will be accomplished by the time the school board slides their new plans in, but it has to start somewhere.  People argue of the good WalMart does, providing jobs and “goods” at low prices, but does that justify our demise?  Sounds like another arguement people are having on this disussion board. The big picture people are claiming “Elderton” people aren’t seeing, is much, much bigger than even what “they” claim to see.  I use quotations because I wish we could all be one, but life isn’t a John Lennon song.

    Now, how to accomplish that?  I’m thinking.

  • By GetSmart, March 25, 2012 @ 11:05 PM

    @ Jerri

    I will give your the graduating class sizes at East Brady, but the point is, it was CLOSED, just like Dayton and Worthington. Elderton should be closed for the same reasons.

    The only “if you build it they will come” attitude is in your imagination. That is not the reason for building a new school. It is a combination of eduaction and economics and efficiencies. Small graduating classes are more expensive to support.

    I have no clue who the People for Progress are, nor do I let any group influence my satatements. I am not an advocate for building in the West Hills. I am an advocate of building in a geographically central location. I am an advocate of the efficiences of closing 4 schools.

    A house the same size as mine in Elderton is not taxed the same as mine, and I am OK with that. I choose to live where I do.

    Seems like your anger prevents you from being rational.

  • By wakeup, March 26, 2012 @ 12:33 AM

    Lancret- those that have kids in the school system are passionate about were they want the school…I understand this. For the rest of us we should be simply looking to see it is placed based on statistics not emotion to keep taxes low and attract families to share in the tax burden. If that means putting it in East Brady I truthfully could care less. All I am saying is to have two high schools on the eastern side of the county does not make sense in regards to population, busing or costs. If you want just one high school then a school on 422 west or by Lenape may make most sense.

    I think my orignal point was lost which is two equal in size and stature schools, one in the east and one in the west. Just humor me and look at a county wide map. If WSHS is the eastern school and a new school is built somewhere near the mall or hospital would this not best serve the entire county in regards to distance for all to the school? Would we not counter some of the objections by having these two sister schools equal in size? Could we not use Kittaning as the dividing line to combat those that say this is just about Kittaning getting the new school? Would we not be able to give equal treatment to all students of the county.

    Regardless of what you think I do not want to come off combative towards you and apologize if I did. It is easy to get caught up in the debate and lose sight of the real goal which is to put an end to this decade after decade old battle. That is really my main objective as I am sure it is for most, the rest is just details.

  • By Kittanning Lady, March 26, 2012 @ 5:32 AM

    The school board has already hand picked a replacement for the vacant position on the school board??? A FORMER SCHOOL TEACHER FROM WESTSHAMOKIN? REALLY!! Jorn I agree with you the state needs to step in.

  • By GetSmart, March 26, 2012 @ 6:07 AM

    @ Jerri:

    A few more comments on your recent posts directed at me.

    Yee, I know what taxes people in Elderton and other rural areas pay pay…the reason for my statement.

    On YOUR STATEMENT “Oh wait, a Kittanning kid may have to move…..” The proposed new school is out of the Kittanning attendance area so EVERY SINGLE JR. HI AND SR. HI STUDENT FROM KITTANNING WILL HAVE TO MOVE!

  • By Lancret, March 26, 2012 @ 6:14 AM

    @ wakeup

    I will ask you, again, about Dr. Kerr’s vision.

    If you are going to put one in the west, then I would really support it to go near the Vo-Tech.

    The architects are attempting to pass it off that there is not enough land at the Lenape site. More and more opinions are coming out saying that this is not true at all. This was something that Solak cooked up to keep the communities schools and now this board is utilizing Solak’s words to push their agenda.

    We can talk about 1 in the East and 1 in the West, 2 in the east and 0 in the West, etc. I think the part that needs addressed is that there is Vo-Tech school in this district with land next to it available. Now, we get to the part of the debate that others like to discuss…..curricula and training for our youth in this district.

    Does making sure each side has a high in their vicinity, or is this about the kids and the educational and training opportunities that they can obtain to prepare themselves for the future?

    Why not put a high school next to the Lenape Vo-Tech? Is it worth doing this for the children? How do the children lose out on this? I have seen both sides of this debate say that taxes are going to be raised, so let’s do it right. I am sure that transportation costs would be cut to an extent. Somebody said on here within the last week that a student could simple walk from one building to the other and be granted many options and opportunities in creating a well-rounded educational experience.

    So, wakeup, I am not into the game, of doling out high schools just to satisfy the wants and needs of adult playing a vicious game of tug-of-war….I support ideas which could cuts costs to an extent and provide the best educational experience and opportunities for the children.

  • By JornJensen, March 26, 2012 @ 7:20 AM

    Wakeup – Interesting idea – two equal-sized schools offering the same education – one existing and being expanded, and one built new. Both would be campus-type schools.

    So, is an expanded West Shamokin acceptable to folks from Elderton? Can we build a new school smaller than current plans, for less money, so that there is money to expand WSHS to the same size?

    If this works for the folks to the east, then it could be a win/win solution.

    nonamerequired – It starts with reading labels – many times, a lower-cost, off-brand, no-name product is actually made in the US and supports our economy.

  • By JornJensen, March 26, 2012 @ 7:21 AM

    Wakeup – Wonder if your idea ever made it to the whiteboard?

  • By asdgrad, March 26, 2012 @ 9:27 AM

    For a one High School District then ok place the school some where in the center, as i said before Kittanning Township the site of the elementary school would work..

    However that is not going to be the case so then ok I agree with who ever says we need to look at a location on the west side of the river, and no I do not say that to favor the Kittanng and Ford City attendance areas. I say that because we see place the school say near the hospital, then we can split the attendance lines in a way that the number of students per High school could be more equal. So then we can have more Equal Education.

    Now I’m ready to stop talking about the building because I have already excepted the fact it is going to be built, there is going to be closure and consolidation between the schools. I’m ready to talk about education now. Education which is the most important.

    However in the mean time we need to push the board into look at sites on the west side of the river so like I said the attendance lines can be split more equally for each school.

    Also I like the names I read on here somewhere whether it was this post or a different one
    Armstrong East and Armstrong West.

  • By fatboyonthehill, March 26, 2012 @ 12:33 PM

    @ Jorn – Wexford is located on Allegheny County. Its really a muncipality as much as it is an area. It resides in Pine Township and McCandless Township.

  • By fatboyonthehill, March 26, 2012 @ 12:35 PM

    @ Jorn – I meant to say not a municipality. However if you want to point out grown in Southern Butler County adjacent to Cranberry I will point out Adams Township (along rt. 228 between Mars borough and Cranberry), Middlesex Township, and the Saxonburg area.

  • By The Phantom, March 26, 2012 @ 4:46 PM

    “we need to push the board into look at sites on the west side of the river”

    And so it begins, The move to build the West Hills dream school.

  • By wakeup, March 26, 2012 @ 5:04 PM

    Lancret- I give up what is Dr. Kerr’s Vision? Is it like your vision of a campus at the Lenape property? Everyone has a vision..many are based on self serving interests, its life? Should we allow it to dictate our decisions because we fundamentally oppose that person on other issues?

    Again I challenge you to look at a map and population of the county. A school near 422 and 28 or even as far as Worthington and a equal renovated school at WSHS. is very central that would allow breaking down attendance to make these schools equal in size stature and busing. I am not seeing that with your Lenape Property? Yes it helps those that attend that school and wish to attend Lenape but does nothing for other students…ESPECIALLY THOSE AT WSHS!

    Jorn- Not sure if the idea was part of the boards brainstorm or not. I believe the two school approach would best serve the county if an honest effort is put forth to make them equal. It is the closet to creating a situation that all areas win and minimizes losses. West Armstrong and East Armstrong that I am guessing would both be AAA versus the AAAA super school many fear.

    Time will tell what is best!

  • By Lancret, March 26, 2012 @ 5:20 PM

    Ladies and Gentlemen….

    Get ready for the West Hills PR campaign.

    It looks like it is now in full motion.

    And while you are getting ready for the WH campaign, grab your wallet, because if this campaign becomes a reality, you are going to be fleeced in funding this charade about education and the children.

    This will be all about the $$$$$$.

  • By wakeup, March 26, 2012 @ 5:40 PM

    Lancret- I am trying to understand the benefits you see in putting a school at the Lenape property. Unless it is a half day program I am not seeing how students would interact between the two schools and the benefit? I am also not seeing savings in busing unless you plan to put High School, Elementary and Lenape Tech students all on the same bus which to me is not a real good idea? So how do these three schools interact that will benefit the students and reduce costs?

  • By nonamerequired, March 26, 2012 @ 10:47 PM

    Jorn- building up West Shamokin is not an option. This can absolutely be verified. It can not expand up or out. Up, due to the initial construction of the high school – no beams to support it, and out would be building on a swamp. Yet another waste of tax payer’s money, yet another reason among the growing list as to why we feel our children are not important to this board.

  • By asdgrad, March 29, 2012 @ 12:03 AM

    noname, where can that information about west shamokin be verified?

  • By JornJensen, March 29, 2012 @ 9:59 AM

    The Phantom – So, what is your solution to this dilemma? Even if this school board came up with “The Perfect Solution”, some would still not like it. No matter what they do, they will be wrong?

    An idea of two equal school system (I believe that wakeup came up with that)and you start on the critique of the “West Hills Dream”? So, where should it (Armstrong West)be placed?

    The answer is to solve the problem based on data, and take emotions and attacks out of it.
    One piece of data – there are three bridges that cross the river – one goal should be minimized bus miles/travel over those bridges, so, which direction of travel would produce least bussing over the bridges?

    Assuming that nonamerequired is correct about WSHS (adding on, up or out), then ‘what next’ for ‘Armstrong East’?

  • By asdgrad, April 2, 2012 @ 10:13 AM

    I still think all the schools need to be consolidated before the start of next school year.
    Ford City + Kittanning, Elderton + West Shamokin.

    Pick to buildings to use as Jr High Sr High for the ford city and Kittanning Areas. If it is done now they can work on the attendance lines and maybe just make this district equal.

    Then sell off the rest of the unused buildings.

    But again consolidate the schools and sports before next year and get it over with.

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