MARS (KDKA) – The Mars Area School board has rejected a lease with Rex Energy to conduct underground gas and oil drilling on school property.

The deal would have given the school district $1 million up front plus additional royalties on the gas that was extracted.

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The board voted 9-0 against the lease.

Rex said in a statement after the rejection that it was disappointed by the vote, but it respected the board’s decision.

Prior to Tuesday night’s board meeting, some people had organized to silently protest the possible deal.

Rex Energy says it still plans to build a well pad on an adjacent property, despite the school board’s rejection. The company is still awaiting approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection on its permits.

Many people who opposed the drilling deal argued that it posed a danger to students.

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“Students playing outside are in danger and we need to make sure that the school board votes not for the monetary value, but for the children,” said Diane Arnold of Middlesex Township.

Some parents even signed a petition opposing the deal.

However, Rex plans to continue their drilling plans.

“If they choose not to participate, that’s unfortunate, but we will be moving forward with the project without them,” said Michael Endler with Rex Energy.

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