The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

December 19, 2013

Lewisburg directors OK $19G adviser for $35M idea

LEWISBURG — Before about 35 visitors and two Buffalo Valley Regional Police officers, the Lewisburg Area school board voted 7-1 Wednesday night to hire a financial adviser to guide the district on loan and bond issues for the upcoming high school project in Kelly Township.

Most of the 35 audience members, who flashed index-sized, bright orange cards in a show of solidarity against the high school project, also attended Tuesday night’s Lewisburg Borough Council meeting, during which Superintendent Mark DiRocco and board President Kathy Swope spoke.

It’s likely the heated nature of that meeting prompted the police presence Wednesday night. DiRocco said the school district did not request their presence.

The board voted to hire the PFM Group of Harrisburg, an independent financial consultant that works mostly with school districts, including others in the Valley, on capital projects.

PFM will be paid $19,500, which Managing Director Brad Remig said in a separate conversation with The Daily Item, is a one-time fee paid out of loan proceeds.

During his presentation to the board, Remig stopped short of guaranteeing a certain bond rate. Part of that lies with news Wednesday that the Federal Reserve will begin tapering its massive stimulus program aimed at boosting the U.S. economy.

As a result, the federal government will trim its $85 billion a month in bond purchases by $10 billion starting in January, and that could affect selling Lewisburg’s bond as well.

“The bond market has factored that in right now,” Remig said, but when asked if now is a good financial time for a project like the high school, he said, “It’s probably prudent to start looking for a bond in early 2014.”

Director Mary Howe was the lone nay vote, saying she “can’t in good conscience vote to spend taxpayer money” on an adviser that “would be beholden to the board although paid by the taxpayers.”

“The school board yet again is spending on a consultant,” she said, “this pattern of spending a lot of money on a lot of consultants.”

DiRocco replied that the consultant works for the board who represents the taxpayers and, by extension, the children and the community.

Typically quiet and lightly attended, the school board meeting, which was specially scheduled, was the second platform for Lewisburg residents organized against the high school project. Several gave straightforward but impassioned statements before and after the meeting, mainly against spending the estimated $30 million to $35 million to build the new high school.

Also cited were a lack of traffic impact studies, energy concerns, having enough teachers and economic and education deficits from moving the students out of the borough.

“The perception expressed is that there hasn’t been adequate involvement” from the community, resident Amanda Wooten said in a statement summarizing the feelings Wednesday night. “We’ll remember the attitude. And the approach will be remembered.”

Wooten also said she and many others of the group aren’t able to attend the regularly scheduled school board meetings or specially scheduled meetings about the high school, and urged the school board instead to conduct surveys and hold a referendum on the project.

“Hiring a consultant isn’t focusing on learning,” she said. “It’s focusing on a building.”

The repeated charge of the school board not involving the community enough and ignoring alternatives brought an emotional statement from Dr. Tera Unzicker-Fassero, a school board member.

“It’s frustrating to hear ‘You haven’t listened and you’re still not listening,’” she said.

Noting she served on a previous facility committee — and that some group members had as well — Unzicker-Fassero said sitting on the school board side is “a lot more than what meets the eye.”

She also noted the master facilities plan, which includes renovations to other Lewisburg schools as well as the high school project, was made in 2010 and shelved because of drastic cuts in state public education funding.

“The board has been quiet long enough,” she said. “I am insulted that people feel that way. I am tired of the attacks. I want to keep moving forward.

“The decision may not be liked, but the decision has been made,” she said. “I wish we could make everyone happen. Unfortunately, that is impossible.”

Email comments to esocha@dailyitem.com.

1
Text Only
News
  • Donations to Budd family near $60,000

    SHAMOKIN DAM — The Valley continues to give as fundraisers keep forming and donations steadily pour in for the Budd family, of Ohio, while Sharon Budd continues her fight back from drastic injuries suffered when a rock thrown from an Interstate 80 overpass in Union County slammed through the windshield of the family’s vehicle three weeks ago.

    July 30, 2014

  • B-17 fly-over to honor 'Dutch' VanKirk

    NORTHUMBERLAND — A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress will soar in honor of the late Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk during his graveside services Tuesday morning.

    July 30, 2014

  • dogs31.jpg Is Spike spiteful?

    Dog is often considered man’s best friend, but a recent study shows he may be a little green over how much time you spend with other pooches.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • CORBETT_TomC.jpg Corbett: VanKirk helped to save the world

    Gov. Tom Corbett today issued the following statement on the death of Northumberland County native Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay:

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Afraid of grandson? "Now I am," Amanda Trometter says

    Erick Trometter slept with hunting and butcher knives beside his bed while living with the grandmother he allegedly attacked on the morning he was shot after allegedly pulling a knife on a city police officer.

    July 30, 2014

  • vk1.jpg Ted VanKirk: Seen from above

    The Daily Item is republishing online its spring 2012 interview with Northumberland native Ted “Dutch” VanKirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first of two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. The story appeared in Inside Pennsylvania magazine. VanKirk died Monday in Georgia at age 93.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • vankirk_ted1.jpg “The Japanese were beaten before we even dropped the bomb”

    Compared to the 58 other missions they ran together, the one they were assigned to carry out on Aug. 6, 1945 was easy.
    There would be no return fire, flying conditions were ideal, and if all went according to plan, they would be back to the base in Tinian by nightfall.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ritz-Craft Ritz-Craft to hire 60 for Mifflinburg plant

    MIFFLINBURG — Sixty jobs are coming to Mifflinburg as a Ritz-Craft production facility that went dark seven years ago amid the housing downturn will come back on line during the next few months, company officials announced Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Selinsgrove man dies when tractor flips in Chapman Township

    PORT TREVORTON — A 57-year-old Selinsgrove man died Tuesday evening when the farm tractor he was driving overturned and pinned him beneath it, according to Snyder County Coroner Bruce Hummel.

    July 29, 2014

  • VanKirk 'Real hero' of World War II dies

    ATLANTA, Ga. — Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, died Monday of natural causes in the retirement home where he lived in Georgia. He was 93.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

The Daily Marquee
Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.