About 100 persons spent two hours on a Thursday night hearing Springfield School District (Pa) officials detail plans concerning the fate of the high school.
Considering the questions asked, the consensus of the crowd in the auditorium on Leamy Avenue seemed to be “please don’t raise our taxes, we can’t take any more. ”
The officials led by School Director Doug Carney described the current state of things and went through four scenarios as to what to do about it. They were extending the life of the existing building via necessary maintenance, renovating the building, putting a new one at the intersection of Leamy and Rolling Roads, and putting a new one adjacent to the Saint Francis property on Saxer Avenue.
Carney noted the maintenance work to extend the life of the building would be far more expensive than most understood due to the asbestos roof, the ancient low-pressure steam heating system and pipes, and the simple pane windows that date to the 1950s.
The discussion was organized to clearly point to the district’s preference of a new high school behind Saint Francis Church, that would have more community athletic fields, parking and better traffic patterns.
It was noted that the building would be smaller than the existing one — the existing one is underused –and have geothermal heat.
Quite a bit of volunteer labor went into the study. The logic behind it is sound and those who did it deserve respect and praise.
However, the plea “we can’t take any more” trumps all.
The costliest of the plans was the one for a new Leamy Avenue building coming in at $150 million, followed by the one for renovating the old high school.
The new school near Saxer Avenue was pegged at $144 million, and the life-extension maintenance at $110 million.
This is a little lower than the costs initially presented in May.
For the most likely plans this translates to an ultimate tax increase of $171 per $100,000 assessed for the necessary maintenance one which would mean $250 per year more for a home assessed at the district average of $146,000; and $273 per $100,000 assessed for the Saxer Avenue one or $398 per year for a home assessed at the district average.
Note the tax will not be implemented all at once but in frog boiling increments — now estimated at between $26-$46 — over nine years until the max is reached.
In the question period, Carney said in response to rumors about the school district seeking to buy Saint Francis, that the only contact it has had with the Archdiocese was a plan related to straightening Speakman Avenue, which the Archdiocese rejected.
He also noted that the district is considering unprecedented ways of raising revenue including selling naming rights to the school.