Decision may leave AASD cash-strapped
Let me start by saying that I am not completely against the new school being built, but more thought needed to be put into the current economic condition the school district is in prior to committing to a project this big.
Currently the Altoona Area School District is running an annual deficit, not smart business, regardless of who created it.
You can point fingers at the previous members and administration all you want, but the bottom line is that AASD is in a bad spot. I really wish the board would have looked harder at selling naming rights for the new school, naming rights for classrooms, selling monogrammed bricks (the Paterno library raised a lot of money this way) and any other alternative sources of revenue prior to the decision being made.
That effort to reduce the cost of the school up front would have gone a long way toward people accepting it. Instead, it just feels like it is being shoved down our throats by five school board members — all of whom have taken a beating over their decision.
Lastly, as far as I am aware of, nobody brought up a possible utilization tax for this project. This type of tax would impact me negatively because I have three kids in the district, but I think it is fair.
People over the age of 65 should be exempt from increased taxes for projects over a certain threshold — i.e. a new school. They do not have kids attending that school, and they will not benefit from any economic impact it might have because they are no longer in the workforce to reap the benefits, so why should they pay for it?
Instead of testing these alternative waters, we had a vote, five board members said yes, and now we are looking at not only a tax increase to pay for the school, but annual tax increases just to cover normal operating expenses.
Ultimately the five board members say that it is their duty to make sure the kids get the best education possible, and I agree with that, but how many raises do you think will be given to the teachers that actually do the work when it comes time for contract negotiations?
The board will be crying that they are poor and can’t afford raises and all of our teachers will be leaving for other districts who will compensate them for their skills.
But we will have a beautiful building sitting between 6th and 7th Avenue, full of students and no teachers.