Should Aging Elementary Schools Be Fixed Up or Shut Down in Lehighton?

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LEHIGHTON – Back to school is coming with a dash of controversy in one district in Carbon County, with some parents and taxpayers upset over plans to close four buildings.

Administrators at Lehighton Area School District are moving forward with plans to build a $32.5 million Elementary Center near the high school building and to close down the district’s four current elementary buildings.

According to officials, Mahoning, East Penn, Franklin, and Shull-David elementary schools were built in the 1950s and are in need of costly repairs.

School board members voted 5-4 last month in favor of building one building for all 1,000 K-5 students in Lehighton Area School District rather than repair the old schools scattered throughout the area.

Superintendent Jonathan Cleaver told Newswatch 16 that the proposal makes sense and will save taxpayers money in the long run.

"People think that their taxes will go up because of this building. We are projecting, and this is a very conservative projection, of saving $1.2 million in operational costs a year.”

More than 100 people packed a school board workshop meeting Monday night, including Tara Wise.

"My husband went to Franklin Elementary, so it's kind of sentimental for her to go there, too, and I have a baby that would have went there, too,” said Wise.

Other people who attended the workshop said they were worried about larger class sizes, longer bus rides and a property tax hike in the future.

"Living on a fixed income, I’m a widow. I don't want to be put out of my home because of taxes,” said Ilene Getz.

"We could fix the schools, reduce the taxes per year, give a tax rebate and still have money to provide over for the children, rather than for some building,” said David Bradley.

For now, school board members have indicated that they will move forward with plans and hope to start construction on the Elementary Center next summer.


  • Mike O'Hara (@Irish916)

    $13 million to repair the schools or $35 million to build one big new one!? That $35M doesn’t factor cost overruns, which are certain to occur. The school district already has a $13M tax surplus and could fix those schools today. So let’s ask ourselves why the rush to build this new project!? These dirtbags on this board are definitely getting kickbacks or something under the table to push this pet project through. Someone is getting paid and I want to know who it is!!! enough already!!

  • Eugene B.

    lets not call them schools but institutions, money draining and retarding with no education involved whatsoever

  • Dave

    Pass SB/HB 76 already to stop this crap!!! Wake up you DUMB homeowners that keep whining about the SD TaX, this will end your freaking out!!! Call your state rep and Harrisburg. TODAY’

  • fire them

    a couple telling the rest what is best for them….dont show your face we will ridicule you….school board , and cleaver…leave it to cleaver!

  • Lloyd Schmucatelli

    Home school your kids already! These public schools are becoming worse and worse every year. Greedy teachers, idiot school boards, 40 year old outdated criteria and useless lesson plans and HORRIBLE lunches!!!

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