Board backs superintendent

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The East Allegheny school board has followed the superintendent's lead in refusing to accept students in kindergarten through sixth grade from neighboring Duquesne City School District.

The board approved a resolution unanimously Monday night in support of superintendent Roger D'Emidio, who sent a letter Feb. 25 to Paul B. Long declining to educate the students. The state Department of Education had appointed Mr. Long to come up with a plan for the financially distressed Duquesne district. He, in turn, had asked East Allegheny administrators to accept the students to help with Duquesne's recovery plan.

Ten other districts also have been asked to accept the Duquesne students as part of the plan. Most have already declined, some citing costs. Those districts are: South Allegheny, Norwin Area, Gateway, West Jefferson Hills, Brentwood, Baldwin-Whitehall, Elizabeth Forward and West Mifflin Area, all of which rejected the request; and the City of Pittsburgh and South Park Township schools, which have not acted.

In a related action, the Duquesne school board Tuesday hired a special solicitor to fight the plan.

In Monday's resolution, East Allegheny directors noted that the district already took in Duquesne students in grades 7-12 without being given enough money to cover the cost of educating them.

The resolution also said the district doesn't have the space or staff to take additional students from Duquesne, and is not in a financial position to do so.

Toni Valicenti, district business manager, said after the meeting that the Department of Education estimated the cost to educate an elementary school student in East Allegheny is $9,858. Mr. Long has proposed giving school districts $8,000 per year for each Duquesne elementary pupil.

After the meeting, the superintendent said he believes taxes in the district would have to be raised if it had to hire more teachers to accept the younger Duquesne students.

The recovery plan offers three other options: Keep students in the district; pass legislation to force districts to accept the students; or create a charter school in Duquesne.

education - neigh_east

Anne Cloonan, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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