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Board: Football Team’s Move to 4A
in Best Interest of Students, Safety

School district had chance to ‘play up’ to 5A, but declined

By Richard Finch Jr.
The Tube City Almanac
December 15, 2019
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Area School District’s decision to compete in WPIAL’s Class 4A for football in 2020-21 and 2021-22 was done for student safety reasons, school officials said.

PIAA reclassifies districts every two years. At the school board’s open agenda meeting, School Director James Brown said the reclassification of McKeesport Area’s football team from 5A to 4A was approved in November.

Boys’ basketball will continue to compete in 5A.

Brown said the some of the schools classified as 5A for football have “double our numbers, double our student body population.”

McKeesport Area could have asked to “play up” and into the larger classification, but decided against it, Brown said.

At current enrollment numbers, he said, the football team is closer to 3A than 5A.

“I’ve been a coach here for a long time and I'm proud of the kids, but that's the reality,” Brown said. “We started with 48 to 50 (players) and ended the season with 31 healthy players.”

“Just to clarify, so there is no misunderstanding, we are in 4A based on our enrollment of young men,” said Mark Holtzman Jr., district superintendent. “We had the opportunity to 'play up' to AAAAA, which we've done in the past.

“Due to the shortage of players and other challenges with injuries and things, we think it's in our best interest to maintain the safety of our student-athletes by staying in the classification in which we qualify,” he said.

In other business:

The board approved continued participation the Western Pennsylvania Electric Consortium. The new contract period will begin on the meter read date in January 2021 and will extend for a one, two or three year period based on pricing received from up to six major electric suppliers.

Board members accepted the resignation of Christine Morrissey, special education assistant at the high school, effective Nov. 21.

The board unanimously approved the hiring of long-term substitute teachers Danielle Jiancristoro, effective Jan. 18, 2020, and Kathleen Bayer, effective Nov. 22; and one permanent substitute teacher, Jennifer Lacey Smith, effective Nov. 25, for assignment at Founders' Hall.

A partnership with the La Rosa Boys and Girls Club was approved by the board.

Holtzman said the club will offer is free Teen Outreach Program to “support teens in the middle school with a focus on healthy living and other teen issues.”

Richard Finch Jr. is a freelance writer who covers news from McKeesport Area School District and North Versailles Twp. for Tube City Almanac. He may be reached at

Originally published December 15, 2019.

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