Woodland Hills delays deciding East Junior High’s fate
The Woodland Hills School Board on Wednesday night voted 5-4 to delay a decision on whether to close East Junior High School in Turtle Creek.
“I am not prepared to close East Junior High,” said board member Robert Tomasic, who made the motion to table a vote on the school closing plan.
“We have a new board member coming on and I’d like to give him the opportunity to participate” in the decision, said Tomasic. Newly elected school board member Regis Driscoll is a cousin of board member William Driscoll. He will replace board member Linda Cole.
Tomasic said a report that a school-improvement plan implemented at West Junior High was working figured into his decision to suggest that any vote on the closing be delayed.
In addition to Tomasic, board members Driscoll, Marilyn Messina, Fred Kuhn and Randy Lott voted to table the measure. Voting against were Robert Clanagan, Cole, Cynthia Lowery and Colleen Filiak.
The decision to delay the vote came nearly 3 1/2 hours into the board meeting, which was dominated by parents who raised concerns about the safety of children in all the district’s schools.
Discipline “starts in the elementary schools and it has to be followed,” said Kim Wehrer of North Braddock, who has a child at West Junior High School in Swissvale.
“There are too many classroom disruptions at West (Junior High), what are you doing about it?” she said. “Teachers are trying their best, but they need backup support.”
If the board votes to close East Junior High, all of the district’s 700 junior high students would be housed in West Junior High beginning with the 2008-09 school year.
In addition to voting on whether to close East Junior High, the board must decide whether to spend about $14 million to renovate West Junior High.
A committee of Woodland Hills School District residents last month recommended a single building for the district’s junior high students.
Committee members told the school board they recommend using either East or West junior high schools or constructing a new building.
The committee recommended reusing East Junior High if the board decided to discontinue its current use. “The consensus is, please don’t tear it down and turn it into a parking lot,” said George Pike, a member of the committee.
The committee’s suggested uses include a magnet school, an administration building, a community or senior center or selling the building to a developer.