To James Kraky and School Board:
I would like to thank you for the invite to the public meeting presenting some of the district building plans. Please use this as a guideline for some of the more difficult questions that will need to be answered directly as they relate to the upcoming building plans.
In the near future, I believe the long term building goals of the district should be publicly addressed and considered. It sounds like the district is considering at least two and maybe three building projects over the next decade – a new middle school, the renovation of the existing middle school and an elementary center. I understand that the state gives a finite amount of money to the district every 20 years for building projects. The money sources for the second two buildings must be presented and discussed publicly before decisions can be made relative to the middle school building plan. I estimate the total building projects to be about $50 million plus based on the estimates given last evening and this many be a conservative estimate.
1. Has the district considered what changes may occur with the new administration in Harrisburg and their fiscal plans concerning school money allocation?
2. Is there a chance that our district may not get the projected $8.2 million for our building plans and how would we compensate for this lack of funding?
3. What are the construction numbers for new athletic fields that are sure to follow and any additional grounds improvements?
My other concern is the preferential impact these projects will have on the Borough of Lehighton tax payers and residents. As a residential property owner, I have great interest in these implications.
1. Will the LASD be asking the Lehighton Borough for any financial contributions to the roads or infrastructure? If "yes" – will the other townships in the district share these costs?
2. How will the residential and businesses on properties adjoining the school district be affected by these projects?
3. Will there be condemnation of properties during this 10 year building plan and how will the district pay for the properties and the legal costs associated with the litigation?
4. How will the occupation taxes be affected by these building plans? It is safe to assume they will go up, the question of how much needs to be publicly discussed!
5. How will the district handle the traffic and safety issues that are sure to develop?
6. Has the district considered alternative building sites outside the limits of Lehighton, for the new school district campus?
I agree that some of the LASD buildings need work, expansion and possibly replacement. I think the state enrollment projections are overly optimistic and assume our area has something to attract new residents. Unfortunately, our area lacks economic growth and the jobs needed for population growth. I believe the true need for expansion needs to be re-evaluated and renovation should be given some additional consideration. In fact, our newly hired administration and the majority of the new teacher hires do not want to live in the area and are not from the area. We do not live in an area like Hamburg and a similar expansion seems unlikely. That being said – the long term intentions needs to be presented and the long term financial implications need to be considered. After the public has been fully informed there should be a public vote on the project.
Scott T. Rehrig,
Lehighton Borough Councilman