More than 200 district residents signed a petition that was submitted to the Quaker Valley School Board at Tuesday night's legislative meeting.
Leetsdale District Judge Robert Ford presented the petition, which states that residents object to Quaker Valley's proposed plan to buy and demolish three homes adjacent to the high school.
Ford was joined by about a dozen residents who attended the meeting with concerns about plans to purchase neighborhood properties to alleviate traffic issues near the high school.
Conceptual drawings presented to the school board in March show plans to build dedicated bus and car drop-off areas for students. The plan is intended to address limited access to the school as well as an ongoing problem with students being dropped off in traffic on Beaver Street while buses are letting off at the school.
District Solicitor Patrick J. Clair said the funds for the proposed high school improvements are part of the bond issue intended for capital improvements throughout the district, and are not a part of the district's operating budget.
A bus turnaround, parent car zone and additional parking, as well as a landscaped buffer zone would be situated on land where three homes in the 700 block of Beaver Street now stand between the high school and Village Drive, the back entrance to the Quaker Village Shopping Center.
Superintendent Joseph Clapper said parents are supposed to only let out students at the lower lot in the rear of the school before and after school, but that requirement is not being obeyed or regularly enforced. The result is stopped traffic and jaywalking students darting across Beaver that creates the potential for accidents, Clapper said.
"Everyone keeps saying, 'Nobody's been hurt yet.' But, do we have to wait for that?" he asked.
School district officials consider the plan an issue of safety for both drivers on Beaver Street and for students. But, the residents involved are also concerned with maintaining their intimate neighborhood and the value of their small group of homes.
A proposed independent traffic study could be a first step to start to untangle the divisive dilemma if resident ideas and concerns are integrated into the study and alternative plans are equally explored.
Ford, whose lives in the 700 block, said he believes the district has not adequately explored other options to address the safety issue, including offers from Leetsdale to provide more law enforcement presence at high traffic times and potential access from Quaker Village or surrounding areas.
Leetsdale residents who appeared at the meeting also questioned the necessity of the proposed additional parking shown in the plans.
But district officials said that it has long been recommended that the area in front of the school be kept free for emergency access by making it a red zone where no parking is allowed.
District officials say the red zone would end the only available parking for handicapped and senior citizen drivers to easily access the school, while the proposed parking lot would provide level access for such drivers.
Leetsdale Councilman Osman Awad, who is also the borough's zoning commissioner, pointed out that any plans or changes would have to meet Leetsdale's zoning qualifications and receive the proper approvals before construction can begin.
The conceptual plan would also face additional obstacles if a third property nearest to the school cannot be purchased.
Board members insist they are not ready to worry about those problems at this early stage of the process.
And while board members said no decisions have been made, the district already has purchased property at 704 Beaver St. for $250,000 and has reached a tentative agreement for the house next door to it. The owners of the third home, located next to the school, have not been able to reach an agreement with the district.