The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 24, 2014

FULL TEXT: Dr. Mark DiRocco's presentation regarding new high school


Misconception:  Borrowing 35 million dollars over 25 years will actually cost us approximately 65 million, which we can’t afford.

Fact:  The district issued a 20.5 million dollar bond in 1996 that was projected to cost more than 35 million over 22 years.  Bonds are similar to home mortgages in that the total amount of payments over the years of the bonds is always much more than the principal originally borrowed.  There is nothing excessive regarding the current financing proposal.  Again, the new debt service payment can be made within our current budgeted numbers.

Misconception: The district is building an excessively large high school.

Fact: The size of the building is determined by program needs and must comply with square footage formulas established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education including student enrollment projections issued by the state.

The existing high school is 117,000 square feet and the new building will be approximately 180,000 square feet, which meets all state formula requirements for the current and projected population and the programs offered by the district.  The current building does not have appropriately sized classrooms for collaborative learning.  Classrooms in the new high school will be 120 square feet larger than the current classrooms, which are appropriately sized for modern education.  The current building lacks a competition gymnasium (events are held at the middle school), has a band room that was not built to accommodate the 142 member symphonic band, and has one art room that is completely inadequate among many other size deficiencies.  If the district would have chosen to renovate the current high school, it would have increased in size to 180,000 square feet.

Misconception: The district has incorrectly projected substantial growth in future student enrollments and has used skewed population data to determine the size of the new high school.

Fact: The district does not calculate the student enrollment projections for the plancon process. They are set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) based on live births.  We are required to use PDE’s student enrollment projections.  LASD currently enrolls 580 students in the high school, and the new high school will have a capacity of 672 students based on PDE projections.

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