FARRELL SCHOOLS Board fights Wheatland's bid to secede

A Wheatland citizens group believes its children would receive a better education at West Middlesex.
FARRELL, Pa. -- The Farrell Area School Board has asked Mercer County Common Pleas Court to deny a petition from a group of Wheatland residents seeking to remove Wheatland from the Farrell Area School District.
A group calling itself Wheatland's Educational Alternatives Task Force (WhEAT) has been pushing for the separation for the past two years and filed a petition in court Dec. 13 asking a judge to approve its plan.
The group wants Wheatland to become a part of the West Middlesex Area School District and cited a long list of reasons for the separation from Farrell, including allegations that Farrell has failed to demonstrate that it acts in the best interest of Wheatland pupils and that disciplinary and behavioral standards at West Middlesex are more conducive to fostering education and personal growth and development.
Further, the petition alleges that West Middlesex has a superior curriculum and Farrell no longer provides a safe and stable learning environment.
The petition also says that West Middlesex will provide busing for pupils while Farrell requires all pupils above the sixth-grade level to walk to school along state routes with no sidewalks.
Farrell officials filed a response to the petition Thursday, asking the court to deny the request and denying the allegations contained in the petition.
"We are disappointed they want to do this," said Superintendent Richard Rubano, vowing to fight the move. "This is going to cost a fortune in legal fees and the taxpayers in Farrell and Wheatland are going to foot the bill."
Rubano said only about 40 children from Wheatland are part of the student body of 1,100 but they are considered part of the school district family.
Most of those pupils want to stay in the Farrell system, he added.
Just where West Middlesex stands on the issue is unclear. Calls to the West Middlesex superintendent seeking comment weren't returned.

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