STEELTON, Pa. (WHTM) — The communities of Steelton and Highspire are forever linked. Their high school bears the name of both towns.
Although, Monday’s court ruling could break that bond, by allowing Highspire to split form the district, causing 276 rollers to roll out to form an independent district — or possibly, join Middletown.
Wednesday evening was the first school board meeting since the ruling, but the district isn’t splitting without a fight.
Jaheim Bond is true blue, roller royalty. He knows what it’s like to put his heart out on the field and he doesn’t intend on giving it to someone else.
“I would feel like I betrayed Steelton. I don’t want to play for Middletown,” said Jaheim, a junior who lives in Highspire.
He’s one of nearly 300 Highspire kids who could be affected by the ruling.
“I don’t want to go anywhere else. I wouldn’t accept going to Middletown, East, John Harris. I just want to be at Steelton,” Jaheim said.
The school district wants him there, too. Solicitor Vincent Champion said the district was disappointed by the ruling, but it’s far from a done deal.
“This is only step two of the process. The final resolution is some time away,” Champion said.
The district has three options: appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, argue in Commonwealth Court or accept and figure out how finances and debts could be worked out between the districts.
“As this process moves forward, you can rest assured that the district will zealously advocate for the best interest of the students and the community,” Champion said.
The grassroots group, the Highspire Education Coalition is the one who believes a split is what’s best. They started their quest 6 years ago, citing bad test scores and financial struggles as reasons to break away. They’re also the ones pushing for the students to join Middletown.
“They’re focusing on splitting up the schools, maybe we should focus on improving the schools instead of splitting it up,” Jaheim said.
Some Middletown residents have voiced their own opposition, writing negative things about students on its community Facebook page — something Jaheim condemns.
“A lot of people may talk about Steelton like it’s bad or whatever, but it’s a good community and it’s fun to be here,” he said. “I wouldn’t go to Middletown. I would find a way to get to Steelton.”
Middletown Superintendent Lori Suski did not immediately return our email on Wednesday. On Monday, Middletown School District released a statement saying it’s reviewing the next legal steps and if it goes through, the impact would not be immediate.