Four new members of the Moon Area school board were sworn in Monday and with them, the seat of power shifts to a Republican majority intent on stopping the district's school building project.
A special meeting has been called for 8 tonight to discuss the construction issues.
Ben Bonham, Jeff Bussard, Carol Cellini-Dillon and Mark Limbruner were elected in November, largely in response to community outrage over the proposed $76.5 million building and renovation project for the middle and high schools.
Mr. Limbruner was elected board president, and Republican incumbent Barbara Nolfi vice president.
Reorganization meetings are generally placid affairs, symbolic meetings to ease the transition of power. Not so Monday.
The new majority wasted no time flexing its political muscle. After voting down a motion to close the brief meeting, a surprise motion was passed to replace solicitor Jack Cambest immediately with Michael L. Brungo, of the Penn Hills firm Maiello Brungo & Maiello.
The motion passed 5-1 with three abstentions. Mark Scappe abstained on the grounds that the motion came out of the blue, and no official Request For Proposal was prepared.
"Is this the way it's going to be for the next four years?" board member Peggy Bell asked.
Mrs. Nolfi replied that the move was based on past practices.
Discussion became more pointed when the board moved regular monthly meetings from the second Monday to the third Thursday, and workshops from the fourth Monday to the fourth Thursday, all at 7 p.m.
The move apparently came as a surprise to members of the board minority, who said they had not been consulted.
"You're just going to dictate? You're not going to poll us?" an incredulous Mr. Scappe asked.
A brief recess was called, during which audience members engaged in a shouting match with board member Mary Tobin. The meeting was adjourned a short time later without incident.
The board's special meeting will be at 8 p.m. today in the high school auditorium.
Mr. Limbruner said the meeting was, "specifically to address construction issues," and for public comment on the subject. "Time is of the essence on this issue."
Dan Gigler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 724-375-6815.