Tube City Almanac

November 30, 2011

County Judge Will Name New School Director

Category: News || By

An Allegheny County judge will select a candidate to fill a vacant seat on the McKeesport Area School Board.

At last week's meeting, district solicitor George Matta reported that the Court of Common Pleas held a hearing Nov. 22 to select a new school director to replace former board member and president Wayne Washowich. 

The judge heard statements from four candidates --- Ivan Hampton, Trisha Gadson, Scott Smith and Ryan James --- and plans to select a new director before the board's Dec. 7 reorganization meeting, Matta said.

Under the state's Public School Code, court action is necessary because the board was unable to decide on someone to fill the remainder of Washowich's term. On Oct. 26, school directors deadlocked 4-4 on a vote between Hampton and Gadson.

Last week's meeting was the final one for directors James Brown and Joseph Chiaverini. Chiaverini was absent, but the board presented Brown with a plaque recognizing his work during his term.

"Being a board member is much more than just coming here once or twice a month," Superintendent Tim Gabauer told Brown. "There's an awful lot that goes with this position. You've done a fine job for four years. We commend you for your service."

. . .

In Other Business: While the Cornell project has temporarily halted, plans are gradually proceeding with the proposed new McKeesport elementary/intermediate school, a controversial project in the district.

The school board last week approved a motion authorizing JC Pierce to submit an application to the state Department of Education seeking reimbursement for a portion of the construction costs. The application is Part D of the state's Planning and Construction Workbook, or PlanCon.

School director Tom Maglicco was the sole vote against the motion, reiterating his suggestion that the district look at an alternate plan and location for the building.

"Without this reimbursement, it will be very difficult to move forward on this project," he said after the board meeting.  

If this partial reimbursement is secured, state funding could cover 20 to 25 percent of the project's costs, business manager David Seropian said.

The district wants to build the new school on the former Buck estate adjacent to Penn State Greater Allegheny, and is pursuing the property through the eminent domain process. White Oak resident Robert DeTorre, who owns the property and opposes the district's attempt to acquire it, asked the board to admit that it owns 68 acres of land at the site of Francis McClure Intermediate School.

DeTorre asked if the board had divulged its ownership of other property during Part C of the PlanCon process, which concerns property acquisition.

"I know that there's property owned there, I believe it's approximately 68 acres, and I don't believe that there's even been a question if it was owned by the McKeesport school district," Matta said. While the district may own the land, it has also decided that the land is "not build-able" for what the district needs in a new school, and for that reason, was not considered as a location.

All of the information in the district's PlanCon documents has been "reported appropriately," Matta said.

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