State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

School Board Talks Plan to Decide High School Project Options

by on July 09, 2013 7:55 AM

The State College Area School Board of Directors is hoping to engage the public as it moves toward a referendum on the high school project. Board members want to keep everyone as informed as possible, as part of an effort to reach consensus on the scope of that project. 

At Monday night's meeting, the board publicly endorsed a plan to narrow the concepts and budget for the project. The board discussed how the process will allow its members to "downselect" plans for the new high school. 

The two-part downselect process will include a review of a survey sent to school district residents. There is also an evaluation compiled by the board's Culture, Climate and Learning subcommittee. Board members want to whittle down proposed concepts to just one or two by the Sept. 9 meeting. At that meeting, the board is expected to establish a budget for the high school project. 

At the next regular meeting on July 22, the board will vote on the first high school option to eliminate. The decision will be based on community feedback from those surveys. The board wants the community to act as a "gatekeeper" on this process, with the public's input considered the most important component of the decision-making process leading to the referendum. 

The board will review the survey results at a July 15 work session. 

About 6,750 surveys were mailed out and an estimated 1,600 results have been returned so far. In order to move forward, a concept must have support from at least 50 percent of the respondents.

The survey data will help the board determine the maximum dollar amount the community is willing to invest in the high school.

The survey asked voters to determine how much they're willing to spend, with options ranging from less than $70 million to more than $140 million. The survey also allowed respondents to say they don't support any amount or need more information.

Other data from the survey will include information on community preferences regarding the tax increase, which should help structure the financial plan, and the location of the high school. The entire survey and the downselect process is posted online under the High School project.

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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