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Laurels & lances: Tuition, decisions and rewards

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Laurel: To a real deal. While the White House and the courts work out the feasibility of student loan forgiveness, the cost of a college education isn’t getting any smaller. At least, it’s not at most institutions.

At Washington & Jefferson College, that’s not the case.

The Washington County school recently announced a “price simplification” that cuts tuition almost in half. A small private college, that price tag was higher than state schools like Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania campuses. The slash brings it down to $27,605 — still higher than Pitt or Penn State.

But what it does do is acknowledge the crippling cost of higher education and not just hit the brakes but throw it into reverse. It’s a needed mindset and a good example for other schools.

Laurel: To press breaks. The question of what happens next with middle school in Hempfield Area School District has been on the table for some time. It is part of a larger conversation about the high school renovation and consolidation of the Wendover and West Hempfield middle schools and the reuse of Harrold Middle to accommodate ninth graders during construction.

“Closing a middle school is a big decision,” Superintendent Tammy Wolicki said at a meeting Monday, defending the proposal. “It’s a big change, and it does affect families. … We aren’t making this recommendation lightly.”

Parents in the district received letters last week about the meeting and plans to put off any vote until February.

It’s an emotional topic for some families and homeowners, bringing out about 70 people to the meeting and prompting about 800 signatures on a petition opposed to consolidation.

So why wait three months to make a decision? It’s a “cooling off” period to allow decisions to be made when the argument is less heated — just like a good therapist might advise not making important choices while angry about a divorce or grieving a death.

The board should take time to really think about the issues raised in meetings before the vote comes up. So should the parents and taxpayers.

Lance: To a big win and a big loss. When a store that sells lottery tickets next to the groceries or gasoline is the place where a major prize was won, it gets a bonus.

For example, BP Fueland in Kiski Township sold a Cash 5 winning ticket worth $1.65 million on Dec. 16, 2021. That should put the store in line for a $10,000 bonus.

The problem? If the ticket isn’t redeemed, the store loses out on that reward. That looks possible as the prize has yet to be claimed.

How is this fair? The Pennsylvania Lottery isn’t losing out on its share of the lottery winnings if someone doesn’t collect. Arguably, the lottery benefits from lost, ruined or forgotten tickets. Fueland did its part in selling the ticket. The lottery knows that’s where the winner bought it. There should be nothing standing in the way of the bonus.

But there’s still about three weeks for someone to step forward. Check your tickets, people.

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