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Future of Pittsburgh-area elementary school in limbo

Future of elementary school in limbo
Future of elementary school in limbo 02:54

MOON, Pa. (KDKA) — The future of an elementary school in Moon Township is in limbo, as administrators look to restructure the district amid an increase in population. 

On Wednesday night, the superintendent shared different scenarios at a town hall meeting at the high school. However, the issue isn't coming without controversy.

Ronnie Peduzzi graduated from the Moon Area School District, along with her children. Like others, she feels school leaders look down on Richard J. Hyde Elementary.

"For 40 years, Hyde's been neglected. That's the reason that it's in the condition that it's in now," Peduzzi said during the meeting.

The school is in the middle of the neighborhood it serves, which is one of many low-income families who speak English as a second language.

Melissa Eiker, PTO president, said the school doesn't have an elevator and a working air conditioner. The four other elementary schools do.

"They don't value the students and families that belong to Hyde the way they do at the other buildings," Eiker said. "They keep pushing it off and pushing it off for us, and it's because we are seen as the path of least resistance."

Eiker and several others went to the meeting Wednesday wearing shirts reading "Save Hyde." At the meeting, Superintendent Barry Balaski shared the results of demographic and feasibility studies, along with four potential options to restructure the elementary system.

The first would keep all five schools, with necessary upgrades to Hyde costing more than $9.8 million, along with the hiring of 15 to 19 teachers to keep equity across all schools.

"The option to keep Hyde is here. It comes with a price tag," Balaski said.

The other three choices are to close Hyde, either by closing Hyde and moving the students to Brooks Elementary, splitting up the schools into two by grade for K-2nd and 3rd and 4th, or merging all schools into one. Project costs could range from $208,000 to $130 million.

"It saddens me to know that we can do better for kids, and we haven't done it," Balaski said.

It isn't the first time Hyde faced the possibility of closure. In fact, the district closed it during the 2015-16 school year, but it reopened the next year. Now families fear it will shut down for good.

"It's such an important gem, that community, that school, and the heart that goes into it," Peduzzi said. "Millions of dollars for parking spaces and maintenance facilities and a community center are all wonderful, but not if we have to close a neighborhood school to accomplish those goals."

Balaski said the plan is to decide how to proceed in the late spring. People can weigh in on a form that will be posted to the district website on Friday at 4 p.m.

School board members also want families to know the current board ran to keep schools open, but they're up for election in November and a different board will be voting on the project.

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