New school building? An expensive mistake

The proposal to build a new $88 million high school is a terrible idea.

As many know, the school board’s budget still has yet to pay off loans owed for the construction of the new junior high school ($2 million a year, which led to hefty tax hikes across Altoona).

So one must ask: How will the school board get the funds necessary to pay for a proposed brand-new $88 million high school?

The answer: tax hikes. The logic is so incredibly stupid.

When planning a budget, it is never a smart idea to run on a deficit and hope taxpayers will take care of the expenses.

In Altoona, the population has been rapidly declining since 1930. It is also crucial to note that Altoona is among only six cities in Pennsylvania to experience population decline in 2016.

With those factors understood, it is essential to understand that the school board is planning to get its $88 million worth of taxes from a population of roughly 45,000.

So what happens when the population declines even more in the next few years and falls to, say, 40,000? If the population continues to plummet, the school board would be forced to raise taxes again to facilitate the drop.

Is raising taxes a practical path to take for a city in decline both economically and population-wise? No, it is a death sentence.

The high school is structurally safe, and with a few modifications, will be perfectly fine.

Another point of emphasis is understanding just how much $88 million could help the city. If the school board wants a nice, new, big school, there need to be nice, new, big things in Altoona to draw in a bigger population base.

The amount of $88 million could easily aid in a downtown revitalization initiative, or a tourism campaign, things that will help grow the city.

It would be foolish for an individual in debt to buy a Lamborghini just as it is foolish for a city in debt to build a new high school. Investing in the city first, then in the school is the more practical method of approach.

School is a place to learn. There really are only two components of education: a roof over the students’ heads and good teachers. There is absolutely no need for a city in distress to build a new $88 million high school.

Remember, the school board plans to spend $88 million of your tax dollars. Should you rightfully have a say in how they spend it?

Forget Act 47. Unless we act now, the school board will wedge the city into disaster.

Timothy DeNofrio

Altoona

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