Neighbors Protest School Expansion as District Asks for Township Approval

DREXEL HILL, Pa. (WPVI) -- For-sale signs line houses along Bond Avenue in Drexel Hill, Delaware County, but no one is actually selling. It's a protest.

"We believe that this project is wasting taxpayer dollars," said Margaret Parenti, who has the sign in her yard. "We're going to lose all this greenspace."

She's referring to the field across the street from her home, next to Aronimink Elementary School. Upper Darby School District has planned a $24 million expansion for the school.

"We have listened to the public, we are willing to make concessions with some of their concerns, however, it's our job to look out for the students in our school district," said Director of Elementary Education Frank Salerno.

The district says a lot of students deal with overcrowded classrooms. Salerno believes the expansion will begin to help alleviate the issues. The project still needs approval, however, starting with a zoning hearing with the township Thursday night. There, the zoning board will decide whether to approve a variance needed for the height of the new building.

"This is the first phase, the first step in our process of trying to create a more equitable situation for all of our students throughout the entire district," said Salerno.

To deal with spacing issues for now, the district has rented two building from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. One of them, the Walter M. Senkow Elementary School is in Glenolden. Salerno says if the expansion is approved, the first step will be to bring those students back into Upper Darby.

Parenti, however, says she'd rather see the district build a school in the neighborhood where the kids actually live, rather than expanding the school across from her home.

"I do feel trapped because I don't know where to go. We're here and we're fighting it, but nobody is listening to us," she said.
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