ABINGTON, Pa. (CBS) – There are new details about a record multi-million dollar gift to Abington High School as the donation is coming with a name change that is causing controversy.
In the face of mounting criticism, Abington Schools Superintendent Amy Sichel says she hopes people will focus on the positive of changing the high school’s name for a large cash donor.
“I’m sorry that some people are taken aback and upset by this but I think people need to focus on what’s really important – what is important here is that we’re going to have a state of the art facility,” Sichel told Eyewitness News on Thursday.
On Tuesday night, the Abington Board of School Directors voted unanimously to approve changing Abington Senior High School to Abington Schwarzman High School as part of an agreement with Wall Street billionaire and philanthropist Stephen Schwarzman.
Last month, Schwarzman announced a $25 million donation to help pay for a planned $100 million renovation and expansion of his high school alma mater.
Attaching the name change to the donation was a late addition to the board agenda Tuesday, causing many people on social media to cry foul.
Among the critics are parents of three David and Andrea Judge, who don’t think the name change of the public high school went through an appropriate process.
“I think something of this magnitude probably deserved some public debate, some public discussion,” says David Judge.
“We have a responsibility if we are the first to do this to really look how this is done and make sure it’s done ethically, make sure there is oversight and make sure all the stakeholders are involved,” adds Andrea Judge.
Recent graduate Nick Cline says the gift should have come with no strings attached.
“If he wanted to help he would have just given the money and he wouldn’t have asked for his name on it,” says Cline.
Superintendent Sichel says it was a collaborative decision to change the school’s name, not a stipulation from Schwarzman, who did not return a request for comment from Eyewitness News.
“I think it’s important for everyone to recognize that if it was only Mr Schwarzman’s decision, why would it have not been Stephen A. Schwarzman High School? It’s Abington Schwarzman High School,” says Sichel, pointing out that the school’s abbreviation ASHS doesn’t change.