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School plans: unnecessary gamble

Published March 29. 2014 09:00AM

Dear Editor,

Being a resident, taxpayer and former school student in the Lehighton Area School District (even before it had this name) since 1944 (I'm also a U.S. Army veteran from the time of the Vietnam War, and my service as a defender of freedom on the Berlin Wall in Germany), and now a senior citizen, I'm deeply concerned about our school district's building/renovation plans.

With the evidence that has been made to the school board and the administration, there is no reason to go forward with building a huge new elementary center.

The facts and common sense dictate we only renovate and make repairs to what must be done to the four existing elementary schools, along with the current high school and middle school.

These schools would not be in need of repairs if they would have been properly maintained. Because of the lack of proper repairs and updates over the years, LASD was able to build its current $13 million surplus.

In addition, LASD is gambling with our hard-earned taxpayer money that Pennsylvania will approve changes to the construction/renovation plans that were previously submitted by LASD.

These previously approved plans were to renovate the elementary schools and not to construct a new, huge elementary center. In fact, Pennsylvania has a record and history of never approving any such similar financial change request by any school district in Pennsylvania. So if LASD moves forward with the construction of this elementary center before the state disapproves or approves of reimbursement for the modified financial planning, and LASD fails to get this additional $11 million to $13 million approved by the state, the taxpayers will be stuck to pay this huge gambling debt of our LASD school board and administrations.

Such gambling is not approved by the state or by us taxpayers here in LASD.

With that said, our elementary students would be shortchanged by forcing them to attend a huge new elementary center, where they would be only a little number in a big school, just to satisfy the wants (not needs) of a very few individuals within the LASD. Our taxpayers are on average far from wealthy people. Our taxpayers cannot afford to pay for more than we need or can afford.

So, let us not rush to commit our taxpayers to this multimillion-dollar project. We must wait until after we receive the verdict in writing, either positive or negative, on this important, life-changing-decision from the state. Our decision to commit, or not to commit, will affect all of us within the district for decades to come.

PS: With me, political motivations are not involved. Over the years I've been a registered Republican, a registered Democrat and a registered nonaffiliated Independent. I believe in voting for what is best for my community and nation as a whole and not for the benefit or ego of any special group!


Walton P. Smith Jr.

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