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Lengthy Bus Routes Have Blairsville-Saltsburg District Parents Upset

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Parents of students at a local school district are heated over busing routes.

There were no shortages of opinions at Wednesday's Blairsville-Saltsburg School Board meeting.

"They are not getting anything new," said board member Beverly Caranese. "This is a mess."

Parents of kids on the Saltsburg side of the district aren't crazy about their kids getting bused to Blairsville every day, with some rides of nearly an hour.

"If the Blairsville people were in our situation, that they would feel the same way we are and they would be fighting this the same way we are, if not more, because I can't imagine that they want their children to be bused down to Saltsburg, just as we don't want our kids bused up here," said parent Rev. Dan Satler.

Shrinking enrollment is part of the issue. There are no more than 15 kids in any of the 175 classes offered in the secondary schools. Twenty-four classes have five or fewer kids. The superintendent says something has to change.

"We were asked by, I believe, six speakers and several people who have emailed us and/or called us for information that would help the board make an informed decision," said Superintendent Dr. Tammy Whitfield.

"We are showing what I would consider a profit, basically we are coming in under budget by about a million dollars a year, yet they still make you believe that we need to save $2.1 million more," said parent Nicholas Pantalone.

"The school is financially sound," said parent Michael Barolini. "There is a $12.8 million surplus actually on the balance sheet, and then we also are going to show some numbers to suggest that just like any numbers, you can use numbers in very unique ways to support something that you want to get to."

Consolidation was considered years ago, but was blocked when a new board was elected.

"This may not sit well with the taxpayers who elected you to serve both sides of the community, not just Blairsville," said board member Holly Hall. "Tim, there's five seats up on this board, and you are one of them."

There is still no date set for a final vote on the issue.

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