Leechburg Area parents ask board to reconsider decision to leave WPIAL
By Brian C. Rittmeyer
Published: Thursday, May 9, 2013, 1:01 a.m.
Parents want the Leechburg Area School Board to rescind its decision to move the district's sports teams out of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League.
The school board voted in March to move the district from the WPIAL to the Heritage Conference, part of Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association District 6. Since then, the WPIAL Board of Control in April approved allowing Leechburg Area to leave, effective July 1, 2014.
The District 6 board of directors may vote to accept Leechburg at its meeting Monday at Hollidaysburg High School. The move would still need approval from the statewide PIAA, which meets May 22-23.
But Leechburg Area parents opposed to the move don't think it's too late for the school board to reverse course.
About 20 residents opposed to the move attended the school board's workshop meeting Wednesday. Only school board members spoke in favor of the move.
District officials have said that Leechburg Area teams would be more competitive against Heritage schools.
Parents' objections centered on the increased travel time and distance to Heritage Conference schools and how that would affect students' academics. They also faulted the board for making the decision without giving the public advance notice and an opportunity to weigh in on the decision before it was made.
“We were all blindsided by it,” said Melanie Knight, of Gilpin.
The parents' views were presented primarily by Etta Berry of Leechburg. Her 13-year-old daughter, in seventh grade, plays basketball, softball and volleyball.
Berry presented the board with a petition containing 240 signatures she said were collected in five days. She said the signatures include those of alumni, students, community members, teachers and coaches opposed to the move to Heritage.
“Our first and most important concern is the increased loss of class time for after-school games,” she told the board. “The students will have to be excused even earlier to go the extra distance to those games.
“It should not matter whether a student can handle or not handle losing more class time to participate in sports. It is very distressing to see the school district and school board willing to sacrifice and compromise educational time, which should be the top priority of a school.”
Board President Terry Knepshield said school board members asked the same questions and had the same concerns as residents. It was all discussed in public, he said.
“We did not do this with any nefarious reasons or to hurt anyone,” Knepshield said. “We did this because we believe it's going to be better for our student-athletes.”
Berry said her daughter is already exhausted traveling locally for games and may have to stop playing sports if it hurts her studies.
“I'd like my child to be able to put on her college application that she participated in sports,” she said. But, “It's going to be more important for my daughter to have good grades than participate in sports.”
The school board will vote Wednesday to approve a preliminary $12.9 million 2013-14 budget that carries no property tax increase.
That could change before approval of the final budget in June as the board considers introducing a full-day kindergarten option along with its half-day program.
If a full-day kindergarten class is created, business Manager Mark Lukacs said he would recommend a property tax increase to cover the additional $45,000 cost of an aide.
The school board is also expected to vote next week to accept the resignation of Superintendent James Budzilek.
Budzilek was hired Tuesday as superintendent of the Mars Area School District in Butler County. He will start there on Aug. 5.
Budzilek said his last day at Leechburg Area will be July 31.
Knepshield said the board is considering whether it will conduct a search for a new superintendent itself or hire a consultant. A decision could be made next week, he said.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- East Deer will buy $61K dump truck
- White Oak woman charged in chase case
- Owner of Natrona Heights store indicted for food stamp fraud
- Suspected burglar to be extradited
- FRESH, NOT FAKE
- Classic novel, new movie share little beyond like titles
- Allegheny Township man accused of gashing girlfriend’s face with scissors
- Fawn man convicted of firearm violation, which carries minimum 15-year sentence
- Democrats sweep past Republicans in Oakmont Council races
- Oakmont’s preliminary budget holds taxes steady
- Oakmont man, 36, reported missing