M A I NLI NE newspapers
Vol. 126 No. 27
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Penn Cambria School Board talks learning, autistic support, staffing
By Gina Bianucci
of Mainline Newspapers
The Penn Cambria School Board heard from the special education department about changes with their learning and autistic support teachers and staffing positions at their June 18 meeting. Penn Cambria traditionally has learning support teachers, however, due to regulations with chapter 14 autistic support, they are only allowed 12 students maximum on their rosters, which alerted teachers who had 50 students on their roster. “Due to our numbers increasing
in their system support, we had to come up with a creative way to try to staff our students to make them have a great education from Penn Cambria,” Carrie Conrad, special education director, said at the meeting. “To do this, we decided that we needed to share students.” The special education department divided the rosters between learning support and autistic support. In each grade level from third grade through 12th grade, the learning support teacher also took care of autistic support students. Conrad said that it was definitely a big transition for some of their
teachers, since learning support teachers usually would work with autism support students in the regular classroom. Although it wasn’t a big transition for teachers who normally handle autistic support, the transition was from a smaller caseload to larger cases. During this past year, Penn Cambria’s special education permit was due. During the review process, there were some changes in special education regulations and it was decided that Penn Cambria needed to add some additional supSEE LEARNING, PAGE 3A
Church member says misinformation about school has caused anger
By Ron Portash
of Mainline Newspapers
Dave Nesbella, a member of the Our Lady of the Alleghenies (OLOA) parish council said “there is lots of anger over the demolition of St. Brigid’s School building because of misinformation.” According to Nesbella, the parish council has been discussing what to do with the school building for several years. The school building, constructed in 1901, was closed a number of years ago. The utilities also were disconnected several years ago due to the expenses to maintain the old, large building. “There were regular reports in the OLOA church bulletins to keep the church members informed of what was going on,” said Nesbella. “Anyone was free to attend a parish council meeting if they have concerns or questions, no one did.” It was previously reported that businessman Chad Pysher made
an offer to purchase the school building with the hopes of converting the building into an art and community center. Nesbella said that the offers were presented to the OLOA parish council by member Jeannie George on behalf of Pysher in December 2015. Nesbella is in possession of a copy of the proposal that included an option to purchase or lease the school property. “The council considered the proposals and even talked about a counter-proposal, nothing was ever voted on by council,” Nesbella said contrary to a previously published report. According to him, the diocese rejected the offers, which prevented any further consideration of the sale. The bishop of the AltoonaJohnstown Diocese holds all the church-related property deeds “in trust for the congregation.” Bishop Mark Bartchak refused to accept purchase offers for St. Brigid’s School in Lilly or the Sacred Heart Church and school in Portage. Although St. Brigid’s School was not listed with a real estate agent, Sacred Heart and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary churches in Portage were listed for sale through an agent. The Assumption rectory sold within
days of being listed for sale. Assumption Church, along with the Sacred Heart buildings were not sold, even though the initial offer for the Sacred Heart buildings was $40,000 over the asking price of $80,000. At least three offers were made for the Sacred Heart building, but the diocese refused all offers. The initial demolition work has begun on the Sacred Heart buildings. Nesbella said that Monsignor John Sasway, assigned to OLOA parish at the time of the consolidation of the two Roman Catholic churches in Lilly, was not reassigned so another priest would oversee the school building demolition. He maintains that Sasway decided to leave the fate of the school building to the incoming priest, Fr. Kevin Queally. The diocese conducted a building study of St. Brigid’s School. Although Nesbella said he did not read the report, he said he was told that it would cost $1.2 million to bring the building up to code. “Everything was discussed by the finance and parish councils at meetings,” Nesbella said. “The bones of the building were good, but the interior, especially the old wood floors, suffered the lack of heat.”
SEE CHURCH, PAGE 4A
Lilly Fire Carnival
Leah Buck and Angel Trexler spend time as friends while at the Lilly Fire Carnival June 26. Photo by Gina Bianucci.
Area libraries hold SummerQuest program
of Mainline Newspapers
Newsstand Price 75¢
By Gina Bianucci
Jeff, Connor, Benjamin and Jessica Pacsai have fun at the Lilly Fire Carnival June 26. Photo by Gina Bianucci.
Now that it’s officially summer, the public libraries in Cresson, Gallitzin and Lilly are holding their SummerQuest program throughout June and July for children. Cresson Public Library (CPL) started their program in June. CPL recently hosted Lanika Ruzhitskaya, a St. Francis University professor, who spoke about the planets. She will present again July 11. Pastor Matthew Williams is also scheduled to speak to the children July 3.
CPL will also have a book sale and story hours during the summer. Story hours are every Tuesday and Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. CPL hopes to start a Lego Club for children toward the end of summer. “Everyone loves Legos, and kids could play with them or build simple machines with them,” Courtney Sable, CPL director said. Gallitzin Public Library’s (GPL) program started July 2 and will SEE LIBRARIES, PAGE 4A
Alan, Mary, Clara and Sarah Dubreucq stop to look at the train at the Lilly Fire Carnival June 26. Photo by Gina Bianucci.