Abington School Board apologizes for 'misjudgment' in high school renaming

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Abington School Board offers apology: Annie McCormick reports on Action News at 11 p.m., April 10, 2018 (WPVI)

It was standing room only Tuesday evening at the Abington School Board meeting.

Some members of the audience were criticizing the board's vote during a March meeting to rename the high school after billionaire Steve Schwarzman, arguing the board was not transparent enough. Schwarzman recently gifted the district $25 million.

"I want answers," said parent Laura Reale. "Who is overseeing the people we voted for? Who says they are acting in our best interests? I'm starting to think they might not be."

School board president Ray McGarry opened the meeting with an apology.

"That was a misjudgment on my part," said McGarry. "It was certainly not an attempt to hide anything, but it was clearly misjudgment. Clearly a mistake."

At the meeting, the board unveiled new plans for a massive renovation that the superintendent said is beyond district and taxpayers' reach without the endowment.

In the plans, a new science and technology wing would carry the billionaire's name.

"A million dollars takes a solid base plan to a terrific extensive plan for taking a building from 1956 and making it state of the art," said Superintendent Amy Sichel.

Some argue a public school should not be named after a major donor, but at the meeting, there was also support for the multi-million dollar gift.

"It was a generous donation," said Abington senior Josh Harkins. "I'm grateful we have these funds that are going to the school."

Some also criticized a foundation created to oversee the donation. The school board said the foundation was created for tax purposes.

A vote on the new plans will come at the next school board meeting.

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