Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

School Merger Vote Near

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

School Merger Vote Near

Article excerpt

The Keystone Oaks school board has scheduled a special meeting for 7:30 tonight to present and consider a vote on a consolidation plan that will include merging Aiken and Myrtle elementaries into Dormont Elementary, placing grades 5-7 at the current middle school and grades 8-12 at the high school.

The impetus for the consolidation is to save money and pool resources in a district that has experienced declining enrollment, a shrinking tax base and worries over significant increases in pension payments that could cost an additional $2.5 million per year starting in 2014-15.

Currently the three elementary buildings hold grades K-5, the middle school grades 6-8 and the high school, grades 9-12.

For the past three years, the board has discussed possible consolidation of district buildings in the face of much community opposition. A study by Kimball Architecture found the district's buildings were under-utilized but well maintained and that some would require expensive maintenance upgrades in the future.

In addition, a community task force was formed with representatives from the district's three communities -- Green Tree, Castle Shannon and Dormont -- but the board decided not to adopt the task force recommendations, which were to keep the current five- building configuration and balance the budget through cuts and tax hikes.

In the wake of the Kimball study and the task force recommendations, the board originally set a vote on a consolidation plan in November 2010 but later canceled that meeting.

Then in June the board took up the matter again, holding a public hearing on closing Aiken in Green Tree, and Myrtle in Castle Shannon. By state law, the board was required to wait three months from that hearing before it could vote on the matter, said district spokesman Jim Cromie.

Tonight's meeting in the board room marks the end of the three- month waiting period. …

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