The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 11, 2013

Myths about school project


For The Daily Item

— The recent “My Turn” column titled “New high school, wrong direction for Lewisburg” and its several supplements published this week continue to circulate a number of myths and inaccuracies that have persisted in the small but loud opposition movement against the district’s facilities plan. Here are but a few of the most important.

1. Not referring to the district by its right name — the Lewisburg Area School District — allows people to forget that the district and its four schools serve a much wider community than the borough, including the fast-growing East Buffalo Township and Kelly Township. Most of the geographical and cultural arguments against relocating the high school falsely assume a 19th-century definition of Lewisburg. This practice also conveniently ignores the fact that an excellent LASD school — Kelly Elementary — has been functioning very well for years on the Newman property, adjacent to the planned location of the new high school.

2. The myth persists that the reason for the relocation of the high school is to make room for a stadium, even though it has been regularly pointed out by the superintendent and by members of the board that district plans do not call for the building of a stadium, even though the Green Dragon Foundation has been considering such an eventual long-range possibility as an independent fund-raising project. This error has conveniently allowed the opposition to gloss over the real point that a 21st-century high school that is prepared for unprecedented educational developments for the next 100 years can no longer function on the current site, which is one-thirtieth the size of the Newman property.

3. The fantasy persists that the current facility can simply be patched up one more time to serve the educational needs of one of the most academically productive student bodies in the country. Fortunately, we have the clear and definitive judgment to the contrary from the independent Middle States accrediting agency, which reported to us five years ago that we cannot achieve our stated educational goals in the current facility.

4. The fiction that deliberations about the building of a new high school were conducted by the board in secret is most preposterous of all. In fact all deliberations were conducted in public, as required by Pennsylvania law. These included detailed presentations by architects, planners, and financial consultants. It is particularly galling when some citizens don’t bother to attend well-announced public discussions, sit back and wait for the eleventh hour, and then publish their pompous, poison pen letters—and then claim they have been denied access to the planning process.

Michael Payne,

Lewisburg