A parents group in the Carlynton School District plans to run a slate of candidates in an effort to reverse the decision to consolidate Crafton and Carnegie elementary schools.
Carlynton school directors voted 5-4 last Thursday to close the two schools and construct a new elementary building for approximately $30 million in the vicinity of Carnegie Elementary. The Honus Wagner athletic field would remain untouched.
Thomas Brown, Patricia Schirripa, Thomas DiPietro, Ronald McCartney and Sandra Hughan supported the proposal, which has been discussed since last year.
Parents opposed to the plan have argued that a better use of funds would be to renovate the elementary buildings.
Crafton resident Megan Schriver said the slate will seek nominations May 17 for five school board seats as advocates of saving neighborhood schools, keeping neighborhoods intact and thriving, and being fiscally responsible with renovations and upkeep of school buildings.
“We don’t have the candidates yet, but they all will be individuals who understand the importance of neighborhood schools,” Mrs. Schriver said, noting that not all of the candidates will be from Crafton.
She is a member of Carlynton Save Our Schools, a group described on its website as parents, residents and business owners promoting fiscal responsibility by keeping and renovating community schools.
SOS has posted green and gold “save our neighborhood schools” yard signs throughout the district, which covers Carnegie, Crafton and Rosslyn Farms.
While there are no schools in Rosslyn Farms, the borough had sent a letter to the district, requesting school officials to consider reasonable and affordable renovations to the elementary schools and consider merging with another district.
The decision to consolidate was among 10 options presented in a feasibility study by L. Robert Kimball & Associates to renovate or expand schools or construct a new building.
The junior-senior high school was built in 1969, Carnegie Elementary was built in 1954 and Crafton Elementary was build in 1913. Each building has had at least one renovation.
At the Feb. 17 meeting, Crafton parents again pleaded their case about keeping their neighborhood school, and several Carnegie parents welcomed the idea of a new school in their neighborhood.
Mr. DiPietro said that because of Crafton council’s resolution and continued public pledge to keep Crafton Elementary School, the board was forced to chose Carnegie as the site for the new elementary school.
He said the district was dismayed by Crafton’s efforts to stop the building. He said sarcastically, “It’s a great message to send to the kids to have council threaten the school board.”
Director Sharon Wilson, the only board member who lives in Crafton, voted via speaker phone against the proposal.
She said she didn’t want to cut programs or maintain an empty building, but she wanted to have an increase in space and she wanted the cost of infrastructure to balance with the cost of education.
Director Betsy Tassaro who also voted no said, “I don’t feel like we’ve done enough.” She said she recognized that the communities want to keep their schools.
Comments from parents were heard for about an hour and a half prior to the vote.
Carnegie council members were also in attendance cheering the board on.
Councilwoman Carol Ann Covi said, “My bottom line is the children. I would love to see both schools renovated. We would welcome a new school in Carnegie.”
Carnegie council President Patrick Catena thanked the school board for its due diligence with the financial analysis.
He said renovating the schools would only be putting a Band-Aid on them and that everything would be more expensive a few years later.
“Carnegie council believes in consolidation,” Mr. Catena said. “It makes the most sense.”