“They made up their minds they were going to close our air base and three years later, we’re still open,” McCrann of Economy told the residents who crowded the Economy fire hall Tuesday night.
McCrann was one of more than 100 concerned citizens who came out eager to combat a controversial proposal to shut down the junior high school and relocate seventh and eighth grades to the high school.
Residents referenced the presentation that Ambridge Superintendent Cynthia Zurchin gave at the Feb. 19 school board meeting regarding the district's future.
Zurchin said the district has to consider two options: to either close the junior high or pay $5 million to repair the school in Economy. She cited lower funding, fewer students and more competition from charter and private schools as reasons for proposing a transition.
A day after attending the board meeting, Dave Kozak, who spoke in opposition, created the Facebook page “Residents United to Keep our School," which has reached more than 450 followers.
Kozak said there are too many unanswered questions, including where the $5 million repair estimate comes from and how much in tax money the new Walmart will bring in.
The grassroots group is asking for at least 18 months of research to be completed before the board makes a decision about closing the school.
Kozak said they feel there has been little research into the financial aspect, and the impact this would have on students.
“They showed no proof, no effort at all,” he said. “I want to hear that they applied for grants and couldn’t get them, that they looked into green initiatives and couldn’t get them. I went on CONSOL’s website. CONSOL (Energy) donates money to school districts for heating systems.”
“If we sell the junior high school, we’re going to lose a lot of the facilities that we have,” Kowal said. “We have a track over there, baseball fields and softball fields and you’re not going to be able to access those.”
So far, the group has collected about 100 signatures opposing the junior high closing. The group plans to present the petition to the school board.
The district is asking the public to email feedback to
BASESreport@Ambridge.K12.pa.us before March 5. A plan is expected to be presented at the June 18 board meeting.