New Castle News


November 20, 2012

EDITORIAL: Questionable communication New Castle school district requires constructive dialogue

NEW CASTLE — At this point, the Lockley Early Learning Center project appears to be a process, rather than a controversy.

The New Castle school board voted unanimously last week to proceed with the project, which will create an expanded elementary school at the city’s Lockley site, while closing other elementaries.

The board’s unity on the matter is, of course, misleading. This is a deeply divided panel, as the previous vote on this project showed. And we think it’s safe to say the differences on the board aren’t limited to this particular construction plan.

At an Oct. 25 meeting, the board voted 5-4 against moving forward with the Lockley initiative. That move produced an eruption of anger and accusations, culminating in superintendent George Gabriel submitting a retirement letter, which was accepted.

But after a contentious meeting the following week, where visitors demanded the project be saved, the board reversed course. A major factor was the realization that the district would forfeit $9 million in local funds to deal with the consequences of canceling a bond issue.

That information, however, was available previously to anyone who wanted to fully examine the consequences of abandoning the project. Yet there was no discussion or questioning within the board on this point. Instead, there was just a lot of yelling.

We understand there have been differences of opinion surrounding the Lockley project and whether it would be cost effective over the long term. Advocates have argued that closing schools and reducing staff would produce savings, even with construction expenses. Critics have questioned the fiscal wisdom of a new building in a financially struggling district where property values are eroding and the student population continues a long decline.

There is nothing wrong with holding conflicting views on a school board. In many ways, it can be quite healthy if it advances the dialogue.

But one gets the sense there hasn’t been much dialogue across the gulf in the New Castle school system — at least not the constructive sort. And without a positive give and take regarding differences, what the district has instead is distrust, disrespect and a dismal level of basic communication.

This needs to change. Even with the Lockley construction vote in the rearview mirror, decisions still will have to be made on the project.

What’s more, the district now must contend with the crucial decision of identifying a new superintendent. Such a move holds the potential for great opportunity. But it also holds the potential for great pitfalls in a district that has communication problems.

This is an important time in the New Castle school district. All board members must step up and conduct themselves in a manner that reflects what’s at stake.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Yauger.jpg Yauger’s Mercer County trial on hold

    A pending criminal trial for the former Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV executive director has been continued again in Mercer County.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yauger.jpg Yauger now facing federal charge

    With Mercer County court proceedings pending this week, Cecelia Yauger faces federal prosecution for alleged business credit card misuse.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg New Castle board adopts budget despite uncertainty

    The New Castle school board adopted its 2014-15 budget Monday but may have to re-open it next week. The $5.4 million budget, introduced in May, has no tax increase and will not tap into the fund balance. Taxes remain at 17.72 mills.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todora.jpg Board, staff bids farewell to superintendent

    Dr. Mary Todora will retire Monday from the Neshannock school district. “I remember eight and a half years ago when Dr. John Dietz (then-board president) called to tell me I got the job. I was thrilled,” Todora said at her final board meeting.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rich.jpg Vo-tech administrators get bonuses, no raises

    Lawrence County Career and Technical Center administrators will get one-time bonuses instead of raises next year. The joint operating committee approved one-year agreements that would freeze the salaries of director Leonard A. Rich and the principal, head custodian, cafeteria supervisor and computer technician.

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • FrankAloi.jpg Frank Aloi: 50 years of school spirit in Ellwood City

    Frank Aloi is a true Wolverine. Aloi, who turned 73 Friday, spent the past half-century affiliated with the Ellwood City school district and its sports teams.

    June 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • FrankAloi.JPG Frank Aloi Retiring: Ellwood superintendent leaving amid budget woes

    Frank Aloi is retiring next month as Ellwood City’s superintendent of schools. Aloi, a 50-year district employee and its superintendent for nearly 12, submitted his retirement notice to the board during an executive session prior to Thursday’s meeting. His last day is July 16.

    June 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg District mulls building sale options

    The New Castle school district is considering selling its three recently closed buildings through a sealed bid process.

    June 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Perfect.jpg Your Education: Shenango grad never missed a day

    They say nobody’s perfect. But for 13 years, Jenna DiGiammarino certainly was. When Jenna left last night’s commencement ceremonies at Shenango High School, she did so not only with a diploma in hand, but also with a flawless record of attendance dating back to Day One of kindergarten.

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • 03.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Three New Castle schools close today for good

    Today is bittersweet for New Castle Area School District elementary students and teachers. Three buildings packed with history as longtime learning institutions are closing their doors for good.

    June 5, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads

The Steelers opened training camp this weekend. How do you see them faring this season?

Super Bowl
Division champs
Wild card team
Missing playoffs for a third straight year
     View Results