State budget cut stalls Ringgold building plan

State budget cut stalls Ringgold building plan until next year

July 22, 2013
It appears Ringgold School District is temporarily shelving plans to replace the district’s middle school in Finleyville. - Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The November election likely will align a strong majority on Ringgold School Board in favor of constructing a new middle school, but that new voting bloc will be greeted with a state education budget stalling the plan for another year.

Gov. Tom Corbett’s 2013-14 budget approved last month extends through June 30, 2014, a moratorium on state funding being earmarked for school district building projects, leaving Ringgold without $7.1 in reimbursements it would have received by building a new middle school next year.

“At this time, we are not moving forward with a new building,” Ringgold Superintendent Karen Polkabla said Monday.

The state uses an education planning and construction work formula known as PlanCon to determine the amount of reimbursements school districts receive on such projects that meet the criteria, but the moratorium prohibits the acceptance of any new building projects into the program.

“We can’t do the project without PlanCon,” Polkabla said.

Ringgold meetings over the past two years have been crowded and contentious after the school board voted to close Ringgold Middle School, which needs costly repairs, and use aging and closed elementary schools in Donora and Monongahela for grades 5 through 8. That plan was scrapped after a Nottingham Township woman was appointed to a vacant seat on the board, creating a new majority on the board leaning in favor of building a nearly $30 million new school.

Board President Mariann Bulko has said it would be unwise to move forward on any building project without PlanCon.

The new school board can continue with certain planning stages for a new building and wait to submit the plan to the state when PlanCon is reauthorized, Polkabla said.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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