5th Springfield High Town Hall Draws 300

About 300 persons sprawled throughout the Springfield High School (Pa.) auditorium for tonight’s (Feb. 4) fifth meeting  concerning the fate of the school. Springfield High School 5th Springfield High Town Hall Draws 300

Being debated are four expensive options ranging from building a new school near Leamy Avenue, estimated cost $136.4 million; renovating the existing 60-something-year-old structure on Leamy Avenue, estimated cost $133.8 million; building a new school near Saxer Avenue, estimated cost, $131.05 million and doing basic maintenance on the existing structure $100.39 million.

Judging by the questions and applause, the crowd seemed evenly split between the Saxer Avenue option and the bare minimum (or less) one with maybe a slight skewing towards the latter.

Architect and volunteer Gary Lockman said the simple maintenance cost was so high because the school’s HVAC and electrical systems were at the end of their life cycle. He said it would cost $20 million just to upgrade those systems. He further said the asbestos roof deck needs to be replaced. He noted that this type of roof deck is rather rare significantly hiking the cost of its removal. He said the district investigated cheaper solutions without success and that the asbestos was impossible to encapsulate.

He also said it made no economic sense to renovate the building. Unlike the simple maintenance plan, the renovation plan would include upgrades rather than mere replacements.

Another factor in the expense was the labor cost in southeastern Pennsylvania. A slide was shown illustrating that labor costs were 47 percent less in Berwick and 29 percent less in Pittsburgh.

Don Mooney, the district’s executive director of operations,  said the project would be financed with new 20 to 25 year amortization bonds that would wrap around existing bonds scheduled to be paid off in 2025.

He said the owner of a home assessed at the district’s median of $146,050 would pay $250 a year for the simple maintenance plan when the full cost kicks in nine years after the project starts and $399 per year for the Saxer Avenue plan.

One women in the question segment, however, asked if the school district could guarantee that the tax bite would not be greater than what they were claiming, and the district’s representatives were unable to do so.

School Director Douglas E. Carney, who is the driving force behind the town halls, said the school board has been lobbying legislators to repeal the state prevailing wage law, which artificially inflates costs of projects. He said, however, he didn’t think getting rid of it would make much difference in the Springfield High School project due to the project’s scope

For the slide show displayed at the 5th Springfield High Town Hall go here.

5th Springfield High Town Hall Draws 300

300 Attend 5th Springfield High Town Hall

5th Springfield High Town Hall was Feb. 4, 2015

4 thoughts on “5th Springfield High Town Hall Draws 300”

    • A major property tax increase for residences and businesses over the next 20-25 years, as a new building is projected to cost $156 MILLION DOLLARS
    • A 20% smaller new building design than existing building
    • Diversion of limited budget resources from core educational priorities, extra-curricular activities, including sports programs, to irresponsible new construction spending
    • Higher school taxes leading to lower property values, as has been experienced in Ridley Township following construction of their new High School
    • Major disruptions to recently renovated athletic fields and sports programs during construction
    • Permanent traffic congestion, potentially resulting in pedestrian and vehicular accidents
    • Closure of Rolling Road between Saxer and Leamy Avenues, creating significant traffic flow disruptions in area
    • Potential teacher layoffs and program cuts, as seen in neighboring school districts where the residents allowed their school board to build a new school without objections, resulting in higher taxes and budget shortfalls to maintain the school’s facilities and curriculum properly
    E-mail: objectiontomasterplan@groups.facebook.com
    Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/groups/objectiontomasterplan
    Please review and sign the “RENOVATE SPRINGFIELD HIGH SCHOOL” petition online at

  2. Anyone signing this nonsense petition, did you even ask how much renovations would amount to? Yes – it’s just about the same money as building new, if not mORE. And it will cost somewhere upwards of $600,000 more per year to run that renovated building, than a new more efficient one. Where do you want your tax dollars spent? A boat with a hole in it? Just start tossing your hard earned money out of windows now, if you want that reno. To add more, why would you want to disrupt teaching by displacing thousands of kids while renovations occur??? Go learn the FACTS before you sign this petition is a load of bunk. Nothing but scare tactics and falsehoods/ misdirections /misinformation.

    1. The Certainty of Rising Local School Taxes

      As a Springfield resident, we are deeply concerned about rising school taxes. We own our home, which is currently assessed at $145,340, about the median assessment in Springfield and Morton. We are expecting our 2015-16 school taxes (due this September) to increase by $139. This is based upon a 3.19% increase the School Board has enacted. Future school taxes are then expected to increase a minimum of 3% each year for the next nine years, per School Board, which in our case is an average of $153 per year for the next nine years. If we compare our 2014-15 school tax of $4354 with the 2024-25 projection of $5,814, this will be an increase of 33.5% or $1460, plus unknown increased amounts for County and Township taxes. We could easily be paying close to $2,000 or more in property taxes by that time, and this will continue to rise.

      These increases are being driven by school budget inflation, unfunded pension liability obligations, and plans to maintain/renovate/or build a new Springfield High School campus with extravagant expenditures that could easily exceed the proposed $132 million cost estimate. Also, it is important to understand these are only conceptual estimates based on square footage costs with no rigorous schematic design currently in place for Township approvals and public bidding. Additional design, regulatory, and zoning requirements, interest rate increases, property acquisitions, construction delays, and change orders could greatly inflate costs of project and our above tax burden.

      It concerns us to see the following examples of budgeted construction items such as: $5,509,685 for “architectural & engineering” and $655,677 for “demolition of district administration office,” plus $1,704,041 for “a new school district office” plus $1,109.608 for “renovate district offices at new ETR site.”

      $236,271 for “demolition of existing gym,” and $1,100,001 for “bleachers renovation and maintenance,” plus $616,725 for “furnishings and equipment” of renovated school, an even higher amount to furnish the new building which will be 20% smaller, and $100,000 for “interior decoration.” In addition: a new gym and locker rooms, renovation of tennis courts, relocation and expansion of track from 6 to 8 lanes (only needed for State sanctioned track meets), new athletic turf field, and a new maintenance building.

      How will these budgeted items contribute to a scholarly education? We believe, these costs are excessive, extravagant, opportunistic, and of questionable need.

      The residents, who attended the school district’s Town Hall Meetings to discuss the high school Master Plan, offered the School Board their thoughts and ideas on how to proceed in a sensible and cost effective way which benefits the taxpayers, which includes singles, parents with public and private school age children, senior citizens, and local businesses.

      In conclusion, we would like to see the School Board try to rein in costs so school taxes are not so “taxing”. We favor they work within budgets vs. off ramps which may allow going too far with expenditures that getting off, or turning back, may be untenable. As to renovate or demolish and build a new, smaller high school, we favor fixing the most urgent problems of the existing building utilizing a phased, focused approach over a period of time.

    2. As stated above “the renovation plan would include upgrades rather than mere replacements” which includes a new gym and locker rooms, new athletic turf field, $1 million dollar bleacher renovations and their maintenance, tennis court renovations, relocation, expansion, and resurfacing of existing track from 6 to 8 lanes, demolition of present school district office, its relocation, and its new construction, a new maintenance building, all charged to the renovation option??? These are noneducational, extravagant, opportunistic, and unneeded expenditures bogusly being used to make the costs of renovation vs. build new appear similar. They are no where close to being the same. Renovation makes sense for taxpayers and other more directly related educational investments instead, such as hiring more good teachers, vs. building a new country club .

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