FORD CITY (KDKA) — While the Ford City Jr.-Sr. High School has been a fixture in its Allegheny River town since 1908, the Armstrong County School Board says it’s time to merge with Kittanning and move all the students into a new building on the bluff overlooking the two towns.

But there’s a problem, that bluff has a wooded area that is the habitat of federally-protected bats.

While folks around town might agree with one man’s assertion, “forget about the bats;” the U.S. Fish and Game Commission is serious about protecting the bats.

Those who know such things say a bat eats up to half its body weight in insects every night. Without them, insects would run amuck.

So the School Board was told if it wanted to go ahead with its construction plan, it needed to help relocate the bats.

On Tuesday night, the Armstrong County School Board approved a payment of $61,800 to the Indiana Bat Conservation Fund.

The money will be used to find and purchase nearby wooded areas that the bats will be encouraged to adopt as their new home.

The attitudes of taxpayers in Armstrong County were summed up on Wednesday by Carol Stewart who said: “I don’t know what the solution is, but I know that’s a lot of money.”

The payment allows the school system to continue with its planning in hopes of opening the new school in the fall of 2015.

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