Rosslyn Farms residents aren't giving up their attempt to secede from the Carlynton School District.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education turned down the group's request late last month to join the Chartiers Valley School District.
But, the petitioners have filed an appeal with the education secretary and it is working its way through the appeal process. The group filed its petition to secede in July 2011.
It has been a two-year period of uncertainty for Carlynton officials, who have been awaiting the ruling.
After the petition was turned down, David G. Roussos, Carlynton school board president, said the district was pleased and said it was the correct decision.
Attorney Anthony G. Mengine, who had represented The Rosslyn Farms Citizens for Education, did not return telephone calls asking for comment.
Carlynton serves Carnegie, Crafton and Rosslyn Farms. Chartiers Valley serves Collier, Scott, Bridgeville and Heidelberg.
Carlynton solicitor William Andrews said the petition rejection was based on four factors.
The state secretary of education said the petition did not have educational merit, the remaining Carlynton communities [Carnegie and Crafton] would not be contiguous, Rosslyn Farm students would have a longer bus ride to Chartiers Valley schools and the Carlynton and Char Valley schools have similar curriculums.
The secession petition alleged that Chartiers Valley, with 3,400 students, is a thriving district with a superior curriculum. Carlynton at that time had 1,450 students.
In July 2011, the petition to secede had 291 signatures, which is 78 percent of the taxable residents in Rosslyn Farms. The secession would have cost Carlynton more than $1 million in property taxes paid by Rosslyn Farms homeowners.
In 2011, the owner of a $100,000 home in Carlynton paid $2,415 in school taxes.
In Chartiers Valley the tax bill would have been $1,988.
Mr. Roussos said the board had always contended that Carlynton was the academic equal of Chartiers Valley, and he suggested that Rosslyn Farms residents were "millage shopping."
Secession petitions rarely succeed, said Ira Weiss, an attorney who has represented school districts for 40 years.
If the state had ruled in favor of Rosslyn residents "it would have opened a whole series" of more petitions. "I think the secretary understood that once this starts there would be no end to it."
In 2011, Mr. Weiss was the solicitor for Carlynton.
Though he currently represents 12 school districts, Carlynton is no longer one of them. He said he sent a message to the current Carlynton solicitor, Mr. Andrews, congratulating officials.
Mr. Weiss said he had thought the petition had been spurred by a school board decision to tear down the Carlynton elementary schools in Crafton and Carnegie and build one new elementary school in Carnegie.
Rosslyn Farms children attend the Crafton school on Crafton Boulevard. There was a great deal of opposition to the plan, especially among parents in Crafton and Rosslyn Farms.
In the November 2011 election, six seats on the school board were won by candidates who opposed demolishing the old elementary schools. One of the winners was Mr. Roussos.
The Crafton Elementary School recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. School officials are moving ahead this summer with renovations for both elementary schools, including installing air conditioning, he said.
Support for neighborhood schools was part of what fueled the secession petition, Mr. Roussos suggested.
Once demolition plans were off the table "maybe a half-dozen folks in Rosslyn Farms are unhappy about this," he said, referring to the state decision denying the secession petition.
Linda Wilson Fuoco: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-722-0087.