UPPER DARBY, Pa. (CBS) – The Upper Darby School District voted to authorize a study Tuesday night to see if it’s feasible to build a new middle school on Clifton Heights Athletic Field. The study would cost between $50,000 and $60,000.
When the study is complete, the school district would then hold a vote on breaking its lease with the borough to build the school.
The fields located on the 200 block of North Springfield Road in Clifton Heights are owned by the school district. The borough rents the land from the school district for $1 per year under its current lease, which dates back to 1977.
The proposed middle school would be the district’s third middle school, joining Drexel Hill Middle School and Beverly Hills Middle School.
School officials say the reason behind wanting to build the school is to cut down on overpopulation at DHMS and BHMS.
According to the school district, Clifton Heights Middle School would host about 950 students. DHMS would support 1,057 students, with BHMS supporting 1,114.
The school district says the proposed middle school could open by August 2022.
For the school district, breaking the lease would make sense since it already owns the land, meaning it wouldn’t have to purchase new property.
But Clifton Heights residents are not happy about potentially losing its storied athletic fields.
About 400 residents “stormed the field” on Sunday hoping to discourage the school district from approving the new middle school.
Dave DiPhillipo, a Clifton Heights resident who organized the protest, said the community is not against the school or the tax increase.
“We’re just against them taking the heart out of our town,” DiPhillipo said, “which is these fields.”