AASD board lacking fiscal responsibility

I read with interest the article appearing in the Mirror on Nov. 18 concerning the division on the current Altoona Area School District Board.

It describes the division between the “tax and spend five” members who freely approve excessive spending contrary to the public’s wishes, and the “fiscal four” who battle for the taxpayers and oppose projects we can’t afford.

There seems to be a complete lack of understanding among some members of the board about what education is.

Those five who support the new school spending appear to think that new walls and halls will be a magic panacea and somehow improve education in Altoona.

It is not the bricks and mortar, which they are pouring money into, that educate. Not a penny of all that $88 million building cost is going toward pedagogy or teachers or real education.

Their idea is that throwing out a 90-year-old building and buying all new will somehow miraculously be the golden ticket for education of Altoona students in the 21st century.

A 90-year-old building is not an old building by anyone’s standards. Just look at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington at 225 years and still going.

Yes, they recently did a major repair and update, but for a fraction of what tearing it down and rebuilding it from the ground up would have cost the taxpayers.

The State Capitol building in Harrisburg is 112 years old, and no one is talking about tearing it down for a new replacement. Even the 142-year-old Blair County courthouse, which was left neglected for years, is being refurbished and repaired rather than demolished for replace­ment.

Unfortunately, our local school board “tax and spenders” see the solution for our building as “just throw it out and buy another one.”

One “tax and spend” member of the board was reported to say “I don’t know what to do” with regard to the division among the members. Maybe he should start by being more responsive to the will of the people and stop wasting our tax money.

If he and the other “tax and spend” board members really cared about what the people think, they would have put the new school and its enormous cost up for a referendum for consent of the taxpayers (as the “fiscal four” proposed) before they shoved it down our throats.

They refused to do so.

If he and the other “tax and spend” board members really cared about how they use the taxpayers’ money, they would not have spent over $600,000 for new tennis courts, and then admit to the Mirror (June 12) it really should have cost a third of that.

Instead, they wasted our tax money and lost our trust.

Frankly, I am thankful to the “fiscal four” who have the gumption to stand up to the spenders on the board and defend the taxpayer.

From the Mirror’s article, it would seem that the “tax and spend five’s” idea of civility means going along with them, and any disagreement or refusal to spend ever more tax money is somehow a “lack of communication.”

If the “tax and spend five” wants to know where the division comes from, let them look at themselves and the “never say no to spending” voting bloc that they have formed. The “fiscal four” are in office directly because of the opposition by the taxpayers and voters to the excessive new school spending spree the five initiated.

AASD board members are accountable to the voting public. At this point it has become clear that the “tax and spend five” are going to continue to tax and spend, and division on the board between them and those fighting for the taxpayer will remain.

Many AASD taxpayers now realize the only solution is to change the composition of the board and are looking ahead to the next election and the opportunity to select new AASD board members with less division and more fiscally responsibility.

Michael Gannon