Residents collect 1,100 signatures opposing Franklin Regional ‘elementary campus’ project
Michael Martin of Murrysville knows the way that the Franklin Regional school board is proceeding with its development of an elementary campus off Sardis Road is legal.
“But is it right?” Martin asked board members at their March 19 meeting, before suggesting a referendum on the project. “Are you truly hearing all of the people in this community?”
Martin was one of several speakers who registered their continuing opposition to the district’s plan to consolidate elementary students onto the Sloan campus, across from the Murrysville municipal building. The $54 million plan includes renovating Sloan to house kindergarten through second grade, and building a new elementary school for grades 3-5.
“We have asked on multiple occasions to get an idea of the other costs and what the millage would be for those,” said resident Russ Phillips. “To date, we have received nothing.”
Linda Schmida of Delmont, a former district student, teacher and parent, said she was concerned about costs not specifically included in the elementary campus plan.
“When all of the other things are added — the demolition of the other buildings, the addition of parking — will the school board have to begin whittling away at programs to continue ‘paying the mortgage’?” she asked.
Resident Scott Weinman cited similar issues in other school districts.
“Many local districts are experiencing budget shortfalls,” Weinman said. “Penn Hills is $170 million in debt from new construction. Plum is cutting back to a half-day kindergarten program. What makes FR different from these other districts? Why shouldn’t we expect cuts to other programs? Why shouldn’t we expect the district asking for earlier retirements?”
Valerie Mittereder of Murrysville presented a petition to the school board signed by 1,100 district residents opposed to the Sloan project.
District financial services director Jon Perry has said that, factoring in interest over the years, the total project cost is closer to $100 million.
School board officials have pledged to answer all of the questions raised at its March 12 public forum as well as recent school board meetings, and to publish those answers on the district’s website .
“You owe this to the community, and at minimum, to the students and teachers who attend these schools,” Weinman said.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.