Residents collect 1,100 signatures opposing Franklin Regional ‘elementary campus’ project |

Residents collect 1,100 signatures opposing Franklin Regional ‘elementary campus’ project

Patrick Varine
Patrick Varine | Tribune-Review
Sloan Elementary School on Sardis Road in Murrysville.

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.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.