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Shuster wants to use stimulus money to reopen Scotland School

November 04, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster is asking Pennsylvania's governor to use federal stimulus money to reopen Scotland School for Veterans' Children north of Chambersburg.

Shuster, R-Pa., wrote a letter to Gov. Ed Rendell asking him to use some of Pennsylvania's latest $1.4 billion allocation for the boarding school, which did not open for 2009-10 because state funding for it was eliminated.

The U.S. Secretary of Education announced the $1.4 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on Nov. 2.

"I was disappointed to see the school, which has been important for so many years in the lives of both the students who attended and the community members who worked there, cut out of the state budget," Shuster wrote in his letter, according to information from the congressman's press office.

However, Rendell spokesman Gary Tuma said Wednesday night the $1.4 billion was anticipated and already included in the 2009-10 budget.

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"There really are no stimulus funds that we would be permitted to use for this purpose, with the exception of a small pool of discretionary funds that we've already committed to meet expenses during the current budget year," Tuma said.

Reopening Scotland School could save about 134 full-time jobs, which was the intent of the ARRA, Shuster said.

"There is really no unrestricted stimulus money left that could be used for Scotland School," Tuma said.

Rendell, a Democrat, identified Scotland School as a potential cut during his February budget address. The fate of the 114-year-old school, which enrolled children whose relatives served in the military, changed several times as legislators negotiated the budget, but the final version that passed in October did not include funding.

Rendell previously said Scotland School's operating budget was $13.5 million a year, with the lion's share of funding coming from the state.

In a news release, Shuster said he looks forward to Rendell's response.

"I believe action can be taken to re-open the school, but the power lies with the governor in Harrisburg. He has the funding; now he has to use it," Shuster said in the news release.

"The closure of the school in its previous form is a settled issue," Tuma said.

State Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin/Adams/York, recently said there is a possibility the school could open with federal dollars, meaning children from across the nation could attend.

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