The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 4, 2014

My Turn: Voices deserve a public vote

— The Feb. 3 letter to the editor (“Have a Little Faith”) raises the issue of transparency and true community representation in the decision to build a new high school at Newman. Let’s examine the cause of the current crisis of faith in LASD leadership, which claims that a majority of citizens support building a new high school.

First, a direct quote from Superintendent Mark DiRocco at the Jan. 23 school board meeting: “The board purchased the [Newman] site at that time (the late 90s) with the understanding that that would be the site for the new high school. And even when we renovated back in 1998 - that this was to be the last renovation for the current high school and the next time we did something we would build new at Newman. That was the understanding. Now I understand there was no vote on that or nothing official, but that was the understanding.”

The understanding of whom? Apparently this was a foregone conclusion, yet residents were led to believe that all options would be considered in 2009 and 2010, when a series of school facilities meetings was held. So it’s not surprising that those of us who participated in the meetings found LASD to be less receptive to options other than building on the Newman site.

The “majority” LASD cites, which is based upon those meetings, doesn’t constitute a vote of the taxpayers and citizens who will foot the bill for the district’s decisions. It is true that, in a public meeting that presented 15 different options for further study and allowed attendees to cast multiple votes, a majority of people wanted further study of building at Newman. But this doesn’t necessarily imply endorsement. The same tally also yielded “further study” votes of 50 percent for re-use of the current school, 38 percent for building at Newman, and 11 percent for other smart-growth locations.

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