MONROEVILLE (KDKA) — The budget battle turned ugly Wednesday evening in the Gateway School District.

One board member says he was threatened over proposed cuts, and now police are involved.

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Parents, students and taxpayers broke into applause when the board announced that Gateway Middle School athletics would stay intact for now, but the issue of athletic director drew disappointment and outrage.

Terry Smith, who is on vacation, will now be a part-time employee.

“He’s so positive that I can’t understand, except the racial undertones, there are things behind the scenes,” said Lorraine Lewis-Burke, the president of the Allegheny East NAACP. “They have not wanted Terry here from the beginning.”

Meanwhile, a review committee will be established to work with parent and booster groups to offset costs. But teacher furloughs and a tax hike are still needed.

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“Well, we were shocked by the whole thing,” said Nick Wohlfarkh, a parent. “It’s about paying more, paying more, paying more, pay to play; they’re going to allow that but we’ve already paid for it. We have already paid for the whole thing and that’s what ticks everyone off.”

It was a lengthy meeting filled with impassioned pleas to save programs, teachers and activities. There have been petitions, protests, even alleged threats against board members.

“I want the folks in this room and the folks that are watching on television to understand that there are no threats, there is no threat that will make me vote for something that I don’t believe in. Period,” said Steve O’Donnell, the vice president of the school board, during the meeting.

The Monroeville police were contacted over the incident.

“Every person at that table, administration and school board, has had a very difficult week in trying to deal with all of these issues,” added Cara Zanella, the Gateway communications director. “Again, it comes down from the Governor’s Office and a state level, and they tried to do the best that they could.”

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