East Allegheny approves arts academy charter school in Wilmerding

How the board voted For the charter school: Gerri McCullough, Frank Pearsol, Alan Eichler, Lisa Green, John Savinda, Stephen Volpe. Against the charter school: Jacqueline Gates, Michael Paradine, Connie Rosenbayger.Sign up for one of our email newsletters....

East Allegheny approves arts academy charter school in Wilmerding

How the board voted

For the charter school: Gerri McCullough, Frank Pearsol, Alan Eichler, Lisa Green, John Savinda, Stephen Volpe.

Against the charter school: Jacqueline Gates, Michael Paradine, Connie Rosenbayger.

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The East Allegheny School Board on Monday approved a plan to create a charter school at the former Westinghouse Elementary School in Wilmerding.

The board voted 6-3 to approve the proposal for Westinghouse Arts Academy Charter School — a performing arts school for students in grades 9 to 12.

Plans call for the charter school to open for the 2017-18 school year.

The school would be only the third of its kind in southwestern Pennsylvania, along with Pittsburgh CAPA and the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland, Beaver County.

The building will be owned and renovated by developer RPA Holdings LLC at a cost of about $8 million to $10 million.

About 50 people attended a hearing about the proposal at the East Allegheny High School auditorium. Many expressed support for the project, which has faced opposition from the local teachers union.

“We are looking forward to the project contributing to a rebirth of the Wilmerding community,” said Bill Pricener, executive director of the Allegheny YMCA and a Wilmerding resident.

Wilmerding Council President Stephen Shurgot said, “We are elated that the charter school will be investing in the Wilmerding community and the East Allegheny School District.”

Tom Barnishin of Pitcairn said the charter school is “a culmination of answered prayers that a collection of experts came together to make this happen for the kids of Western Pennsylvania and the community of Wilmerding.”

The building once housed Westinghouse Memorial High School and later a school for grades 3-6 that closed in 2008.

Mark Masterson, a member of the development team of Monroeville-based RPA, said the company is “anxious to get started to revive this wonderful historic building and to work together with the new charter school.”

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