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Rosslyn Farms residents await secession appeal hearing

| Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

In October, an administrative court will make a final decision on whether the Borough of Rosslyn Farms desire to secede from Carlynton School District and join Chartiers Valley has educational merit.

Rosslyn Farms resident William Sargent thinks the court will rule in favor of the borough. Carlynton School Board president David Roussos thinks the court will rule against the borough.

“Academically, Chartiers Valley is superior — drop-out rates, graduation rates — they blow them away,” Sargent said.

At the crux of the situation is Pennsylvania statute 242.1, which deals with the secession of part of a school district to form either an independent district or join another. Upon successful petitioning of the county court of common pleas, the first step in the process, the decision is passed to the superintendent of public instruction — in this case, the Secretary of Education. The decision is to be made based on the educational merits that would come from the move, something Sargent said should be clear.

Roussos disagreed. He said he agreed with the weight placed on the fact that should Rosslyn Farms secede, Carnegie and Crafton, the remaining boroughs in the district, would represent a fractured district as they are not contiguous.

“There's no escaping that,” he said.

Deputy Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq denied the petition in May in a pre-adjudication determination. Petitioners then had 10 days to appeal the determination, which they did, leading to the October hearing.

“The decision has clearly shown there is no educational merit,” Roussos said. “Chartiers Valley is great. Carlynton is great. Chartiers Valley is better at some things. The two are different, but one is no better and one is no worse.”

Sargent said he disagreed with Dumaresq's finding that academics and curricula at the two districts were too similar to support Rosslyn Farms residents' position that CV academics would be better for students. He pointed to the fact that Carlynton offers six advanced placement courses to high school students while Chartiers Valley offers 13.

Chartiers Valley also offers college credit through high school courses and an engineering certificate program through the Engineering Academy and Certificate Program.

During the 2011-12 school year, the period in which the petition was filed, 64 school-age children lived in Rosslyn Farms. Thirty-one attended Carlynton and 33 attended non-public schools. At the time of the filing, approximately 78 percent of the taxable residents of Rosslyn Farms supported the transfer, and 73 of the 91 residents with school-age children supported the transfer – 80 percent in favor of the move.

A specific date has yet to be set for the hearing.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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