Three School Board Members Wish to Change Ellwood City Festival’s Relationship with District

Although they were shut down by a majority vote on Jan. 14, three Ellwood City school board members wanted to change the district’s relationship with the Ellwood City Festival Committee.

Erica Gray, Jennifer Tomon and Danielle Woodhead, all new members as of December, voted no on a routine annual motion to approve the Festival Committee’s request to use district property.

“It’s our property. We should negotiate directly with the organizations that will be using it,” Tomon had said at Monday’s agenda meeting.

The property specified in the motion includes the old Ewing Park School ground and the parking lot on Joffre Street.

The Festival Committee acts as an intermediary between the district and non-profit organizations that use the lots during the festival, such as the Wurtemburg-Volunteer Fire Department. These volunteer organizations raise much needed funds by managing paid parking during the three day festival.

The three board members rested their argument on the grounds that the district shouldn’t allow an intermediary to determine who gets to use the parking lots for fundraising.

“We don’t need to manage the festival,” board member LeRoy Cortez said in response to the initial argument.

“But that’s our job,” Tomon said. “The Festival Committee isn’t using it themselves. They’re giving it to others.”

Other board members appeared shocked at the suggestion.

“The Festival is a community event that promotes the entire area,” Board President Renee Pitrelli said.

“It’s a matter of respect and trust with these groups,” Matt Morella added.

Regardless, Gray, Tomon and Woodhead voted to reject the motion on Thursday but were defeated 4-3. Board member Anthony Buzzelli was absent.

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