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School stock art (copy)

ST. JOHN — There are still plenty of shopping days left until Christmas, but the heirs of John Plaskota took care of one major gift on their list.

The family donated an 8.28-acre parcel behind Kolling Elementary School to the Lake Central Schools. Lake Central Superintendent Larry Veracco said the family first approached the district about a year ago with the idea of donating the land, which Veracco said was one of several parcels Plaskota owned.

Plaskota sold an adjacent parcel many years ago to a developer, who built homes on it. Veracco said the contours of the donated parcel probably would have made it difficult to develop, so the family asked if the schools wanted it to expand the trail that now goes from near the back of the school to the bus barn. It took a year to clear up all the legal requirements needed to complete the transfer of the property.

Veracco said the trail is about 200 yards long now, and the donation will make it possible to double it. Possible plans for the parcel include developing it as an outdoor learning center, but Veracco said nothing is definite now for when or if anything will be done with the parcel.

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"This just moves the strip of land we own farther north abutting the town homes," he said. "We don't really use the rest except as a walking trail, but it's always nice to control the property around the school. This gives us a buffer."

The board approved the donation at a recent meeting.

The board also heard a presentation on the English Language Learners program, during which it was reported the district now has a total of 394 students receiving some kind of help with their English skills  to succeed in the classroom. The students come from 29 countries and speak 30 languages, and a few more arrive every week. Each student has to be tested as to their skill level in English so an individualized program can be devised for them.

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