The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Letters

January 23, 2014

Grasping at straws

It is clear to me that the Downtown Dragons lobbying to keep the Lewisburg Area High School in the Lewisburg Borough are grasping at straws. The article on Jan. 21 quotes the Downtown Dragons’ concern over the cost of the high school and the financial burden that may fall on the taxpayer. I am confused by their argument.

They propose renovating the existing structure for only $2.5 million less than the current $35 million budget for the new campus off of Newman Road. In either scenario, the school board would still need to float a $35 million bond and the taxpayer would still be looking at paying perhaps double that.

Yes, building a new school, or renovating an old one, costs money. I choose to live in Lewisburg and pay higher taxes precisely because I want my children to have access to the best possible resources. With either a renovation or a new campus off Newman Road, the taxpayer will have to carry some of the burden. I am willing to do this to ensure that my children have a first rate education. As for fiscal responsibility, I commend our school board for going forth with their plans to float a bond in our current economic climate with historically low interest rates. In my mind, this is fiscally wise rather than risky.

In addition, the Downtown Dragons argue that there is “no evidence that brand new construction improves educational outcomes.” Therefore, I can only believe that there is no research out there that says building a new school hurts academic outcomes. As a secondary school teacher, I agree that passionate and well educated faculty make the biggest impact in a child’s education and we are fortunate to have many such teachers in Lewisburg. But, the faculty also needs to know that their community supports their efforts in the classroom by providing them the quality space and resources to further their endeavors. If we were to live in an urban environment with no room for physical growth, then yes, it makes sense to build up, but we live in a rural area with ample space to grow.

The Downtown Dragons’ argument continues to be weak and disjointed. In the editorial “School siting should benefit the entire community” (Jan. 22), the author expresses concern over land use and transportation safety. A 200 acre campus with athletic fields is a potential revenue making facility. Currently, the district (LASD) pays to use athletic facilities at Bucknell and Susquehanna universities, and even in neighboring school districts. Community organizations will be able to use the new high school’s athletic fields helping to build community and school spirit and LASD may even be able to host PIAA athletic events, a revenue making prospect. Secondly, student-athletes currently pile into cars after school to drive to practices as far away as Winfield. I cannot think of anything safer than a student walking out of his classroom onto the athletic field right outside the school door. Finally, the criticism that the roads leading to the new campus are long, rural and potentially dangerous seems absurd. Newman and Hospital roads are neighborhood roads, both less than a mile long, and already being used by families of children at Kelly Elementary.

We are not the Downtown Dragons or the Newman Road Dragons but the Green Dragons. I commend the school board for their leadership and their decision to build a new high school at Newman Road. Let’s be pro-active, rather than re-active. Change is hard, but in my own experience, there are often silver linings that come along with change. Let’s use our energy and resources to re-purpose the current high school structure. The decision to build the new high school has been made, let’s move on.

Lisa Tranquillo is a mother of two children who attend Lewisburg Area Schools. She lives with her family in East Buffalo Township.

 

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