An online petition from residents addressed to Pennsylvania's Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis has been circulating online since Feb. 14.
The petition asks Tomalis not to grant the tax exemptions the .
The Pennsylvania law called Act 1 allows the school board to raise taxes by a maximum of .41 mills for their 2012-13 budget. However, the district applied for an exemption that could allow for a maximum of a 1.647 mills increase.
"When a school district applies for an Act 1 exception, as long as it meets the requirements of the law, the exception will be granted," Eller wrote.
The district is scheduled to find out if it received the exemption on Feb. 29.
William Sulkowski, the first person who signed the online petition, told Upper St. Clair Patch the petition was organized by the USC Informer. According to its website, the USC Informer is "a group of Upper St. Clair residents who are dedicated to providing important information regarding our township and school district to our neighbors." Every post written on the website is done so anonymously. Almost all of the postings are against the International Baccalaureate program.
The USC Informer sent the petition link to 1,500 email addresses, according to Sulkowski. As of Friday morning, the petition had 550 signatures. Of the 550 signatures, 111 were signed anonymously or with a fake name.
Sulkowski said when the petition is sent to the government officials, the names will appear, the information is just not able to be viewed publicly on the website.
Sulkowski spent eight years on previous school boards.
"This group is irresponsibly spending taxpayer money," he said. "We projected the district's budget problem years ago."
Sulkowski said he and other board members knew the district was going to have a hard time fulfilling its future PSERS obligations, which is the pension system for school retirees. The increasing cost for PSERS is one of the main reasons the district is facing a budget shortfall next year and years beyond.
Sulkowski also thinks the board spent too much money on the school renovation projects. He thinks the board should have privatized transportation and asked the union to have the teachers make greater contributions to their health benefits. In addition, Sulkowski is very much against the IB program and against .
Rebecca Stern, president of the school board, said she was aware of the petition.
"It's perfectly in everyone's right to petition. Doing it anonymously makes it less credible," she said. "I do have a problem with people signing the petition anonymous. Anyone could keep submitting. I'm not questioning the validity of what they're saying.
"The whole PSERS issue has been superimposed on us from the state and it's very frustrating. It's taking away money from education.
"I hope that most people recognize that the nine of us on this board really are trying to do right by the students. Our hearts are in the right place and we are trying to protect public education and the quality of education in Upper St. Clair."
The meeting location of the next school board meeting has been changed. The board will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 27 in the LGI room. Stern said the budget will be discussed and that the board is scheduled to vote on whether will become an all-IB school or not.
What is your view on the Upper St. Clair School District's projected budget shortfall? Should the board raise taxes? Share your thoughts in the comments.