Mon City, Donora want to stop auction of Ringgold schools

July 11, 2014
Monongahela and Donora councils voted this week to seek injunctions to prevent Ringgold School District from selling closed schol buildings in those municipalities. One of them, the former Monongahela Elementary Center, has been vandalized and broken into several times in the years since it closed. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Mon Valley municipalities want to stop Ringgold School District from auctioning two closed and aging elementary schools next month.

Councils in Monongahela and Donora each have asked their solicitors this week to look into seeking injunctions in Washington County Court to block the sale, said Justin Walsh, Donora’s solicitor.

He said he would discuss the move approved by Donora council Thursday with Monongahela’s solicitor, Seth Tongchinsub, before deciding how to proceed with the requests.

“I’m not going to run out and file an injunction until I look into it to see if we have any standing,” Walsh said Friday.

Ringgold closed the buildings in fall 2011 after relocating elementary students to a remodeled former middle school in Carroll Township and another school in Union Township. A former majority on the board proposed reopening the schools to serve as middle schools, a move that caused dissension in the district.

The current board has made it clear the district will move forward with building a new, $27 million middle school and demolish the Donora and Monongahela buildings if they don’t sell at the Aug. 6 auctions.

“They’re a nightmare,” Ringgold board President Marian Bulko said.

She said Pennsylvania School Code permits districts to donate closed schools to municipalities or sell them at auction.

“We offered both of these buildings free to those municipalities and they didn’t want them,” Bulko said Friday. “They don’t have the money.”

She said it would take more money and as many years to make the closed schools suitable for students again than it would to construct a new school.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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