FARRELL, Pa. -- The Farrell Area School Board has hired professional help in its fight to keep the borough of Wheatland from seceding from the school district.
A group of Wheatland residents, calling itself Wheatland's Educational Alternatives Task Force (WhEAT) has petitioned Mercer County Common Pleas Court for permission for the borough to leave the Farrell Area School District and join with the West Middlesex Area School District.
The court has set a Feb. 4 hearing date on the petition and the school board has asked that the request be denied.
In the meantime, the board voted Monday to hire Keystone Research Inc. of Greenville to help prepare its case.
Atty. James Nevant, school board solicitor, said Keystone will help determine if more than 50 percent of the "taxable inhabitants" of Wheatland signed the secession petition as required by state law.
Nevant defined a taxable inhabitant as anyone capable of paying any taxes in the borough.
The WhEAT petition contains 244 signatures, but Nevant said no one yet knows the exact number of taxable inhabitants of the borough.
He said Keystone can also help prepare a report on the financial impact of the loss of Wheatland to the Farrell Area School District.
Keystone will be paid $65 an hour plus "reasonable expenses" for its service, according to the motion passed by the school board.