NEW CASTLE —
Boxes are being packed and moved out of St. Joseph’s school.
The last day of school there will be Dec. 20. When New Castle kindergarten students return from Christmas break, they will attend the new Lockley Early Learning Center for the second half of their school year.
Smart boards have arrived and new furniture — desks and chairs — are to be delivered next week, when floors will be varnished and waxed.
Kindergartners will be the first to attend the Lockley center, which is nearing completion.
Although the entire learning center will be finished within the next month or two, children in grades one, two and three will continue attending classes in West Side, Thaddeus Stevens and JFK primary centers for the remainder of the current school year.
Then, children in grades one and two will begin the 2014-15 school year in the new Lockley center in the fall, and the third-graders will go to George Washington Intermediate Elementary School, which now houses grades four, five and six.
Superintendent John Sarandrea said elementary principal Debra DeBlasio plans to have orientation at the new school for kindergartners and their parents on Jan. 3 and 4, and kindergarten classes will resume in the new school Jan. 6.
He noted the gymnasium will not be finished until later in January.
The school board had scheduled a public hearing Monday on the closing of the West Side, Thaddeus Stevens and John F. Kennedy primary schools. No one from the public attended.
Sarandrea noted that no decision on the closings will be made for at least 90 days after the hearing and, most likely, the board will vote in April.
During the hearing, Sarandrea noted the buildings targeted for closing are from 47 to 56 years old and need comprehensive upgrades. Their technologies and utilities are wearing out and operating at low efficiency, he said, pointing out the district had closed JFK school for a day recently because of a gas leak in the heating system.
The buildings do not comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, Sarandrea continued.
The district also has experienced a decline in enrollment, and the number of classrooms in the closing schools exceeds the space needed for future enrollment, he said. The consolidation into the Lockley Center will result in a space reduction from 152,000 to 98,100 square feet.
Educational advantages of the consolidation are that the early learning center will allow progressive change in teaching, through small group instruction and advanced technology.
The reading program, which is the core of the primary grade curriculum, will be centralized in grades kindergarten, one and two.
The early learning center construction gave the district financial opportunities, explained Joe Ambrosini, district business manager. The district was able to secure nearly $17.4 million in interest-free borrowing through qualified school construction bonds, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he said.
The district qualifies for about 30 percent state reimbursement — $6,825,000 — of the estimated project cost of $22.7 million.
Ambrosini told the board the district also has an opportunity for earnings through a guaranteed investment contract. The district’s annual principle payments on the project will be invested and placed in an interest-bearing escrow account and will not be distributed to bond holders until final maturity in 2030.
The state’s public school building authority will oversee the investments and the trustee will hold and invest the money for the benefit of the school district in segregated accounts, he explained.
With school consolidation, the district also will save money through reduction of staffing and in operation costs, Ambrosini said. That will be reflected in the district’s 2014-15 budget, he added.
Ambrosini estimated projected operating cost savings at $400,000 a year.
He projected the district’s out-of-pocket cost for the entire project will be between $14 and $15 million.
NEW CASTLE —
Boxes are being packed and moved out of St. Joseph’s school.
New Castle Schools: Leave with pay was superintendent’s call
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Agreement allows nonresident students at Laurel
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Allegations result in principal on leave
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Shenango board set to fill vacancy
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Hearing set on school building’s future
A hearing Wednesday will determine the future of an abandoned school building. The Pulaski Township supervisors will meet at 7 p.m. at the municipal building to determine whether the former New Bedford school on Schoolhouse Road violates the township dangerous buildings ordinance.
School money split under scrutiny
Pennsylvania spreads $10 billion in education dollars using a ragged method that is prone to political influence, according to legislators and groups who are calling for reform.
In The Schools: New Castle staffers heading to San Diego
New Castle school district personnel are heading to California to continue improving their approach in teaching students to read. The school board Monday gave permission to George Washington Intermediate School principal Joseph Anderson, elementary principal Debra DeBlasio and district facilitators Shelly Bucci and Andrea Martin to attend the Success For All reading conference Feb. 5 to 9 in San Diego.
Arts academy to appeal after board says no to charter school
The New Castle Arts Academy Charter School plans to contest the New Castle school board’s denial of its charter. The board voted 9-0 Monday to reject the academy’s application to open an arts-infused charter school in the former Days Inn. The action came after a public hearing and public board discussion about the application.
Emergency substitute teacher course offered
Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV is offering a training program to qualify college graduates as emergency substitute teachers.
Photo Gallery, Story: Kindergartners have first day at new Lockley
Young eyes were wide with wonder. Four- and 5-year-olds bundled in winter coats, hats, scarves and mittens got off school buses Wednesday morning and walked single file into a brand new school.
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