A Lackawanna School Board member plans to introduce a resolution at a special meeting tonight to deal with the state's recent threat to withhold federal funds unless the system keeps its promise to build a new school to comply with handicapped accessibility requirements.
John Makeyenko, who called the special meeting at 7 p.m. today in Washington School, told 30 First Ward parents Monday evening that he will push for a $12.6 million bond issue for a new elementary school to replace the crumbling Franklin School.
If the divided School Board again fails to come up with the required four votes, Makeyenko said he then would support a citizens' revolt to force the district to transfer all pupils from Franklin School to Truman School.
"I'll head the picket lines," Makeyenko told members of the First Ward Coalition, made up mostly of minority-group parents whose children would constitute 75 percent of the pupils in the new school.
"We'll ship all the kids to the Truman School and force them to hold split sessions at Truman so your kids can share the computer terminals," he said.
Franklin School cannot be wired for the new computer system, he said.
"Or, I will make a resolution that students from the 3rd and 4th Wards swap schools with the kids from the 1st Ward."
"This is something worth fighting for," Ricardo Estrada, co-chairman of the coalition, told the parents. "It's up to us to get people to attend that meeting and put pressure on the School Board."
The board has failed to act on the new elementary school because of opposition by members Kenneth Motyka and Edward Piotrowski. Motyka says he favors a new school but wants a referendum on the issue. Piotrowski had voted for the school when the board committed itself to the project in 1994.
Last week, Kevin Reed, board president, threatened to resign in protest, hoping to spur action on the new school.
In an Oct. 11 letter to Reed, an official from the state Education Department's Office for Special Education Services said he will recommend the state consider withholding the district's federal funds until the board proves it is making progress on the corrective action plan it agreed to two years ago.
At that time, the board decided to build a new elementary school instead of renovating the aging Franklin School to make it accessible to the disabled.