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Scotland School group hires lobbyist

February 11, 2009|By DON AINES

SCOTLAND, Pa. -- The Foundation for Scotland School for Veterans Children is hiring a professional lobbying firm to help its efforts to keep the 114-year-old school from being closed later this year by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

"The foundation has pledged itself as the coordinator and chief advocate for keeping the school open," said Frank Frame, the president of the foundation and the school's former superintendent. "By the end of the week, we'll be up and running with this firm."

The proposed 2009-10 budget Rendell unveiled last week calls for closing the Scotland School and the Scranton State School for the Deaf. Scotland school has 288 students in grades three through 12 and 186 employees at its 183-acre campus and an annual operating budget of $13.5 million, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA).

The state pays about $10.5 million to operate the school, with the balance coming from the home school districts of the students, about 80 percent of whom come from in or around Philadelphia, according to the DMVA.

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Parents were informed by letter of the proposal, which calls for placing the children back in public schools. The state says it costs $45,000 a year to educate each student.

Frame said the foundation is working with the school's alumni association, parents association, veterans organizations, the board of trustees and other friends of the school to keep it open past June 30.

The foundation provides financial support to the school and students for classroom technology, field trips, post-secondary scholarships and projects such as the renovation of the school's swimming pool, Frame said.

A meeting between parents and the DMVA in Philadelphia was held last weekend. Another will be at 1 p.m. Friday at the school. This is parents weekend at the school, Frame said.

State Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin/Cumberland, said he has reached out to the House's Legislative Black Caucus for its support.

"They are working to get some concerned legislators to the school to visit," Kauffman said.

State Rep. Mark Cohen, D-Philadelphia, last week introduced legislation calling for the preservation of the school, Kauffman said.

"I'm working the channels in Harrisburg to undo what has been done," Kauffman said of his efforts to save the school.

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