School Officials Release Video Highlighting Poor Conditions at State High
In an effort to garner support for a tax increase to cover the cost of a massive State College Area High School renovation project, district officials released a video Thursday showing what they consider poor conditions at the two-building campus.
Issues, such as flooding, mold and an outdated heating, cooling and ventilation system, are just some of the issues that school officials say hurt student learning.
"We have to do something to these facilities, the electrical systems, the plumbing, the heating and ventilation systems. We have to update those. We can't continue to move along status quo knowing that student learning experiences are being disrupted," says Superintendent Bob O'Donnell.
The fate of the planned renovations lies in the hands of registered voters in the district. In order to pay for the project, the school board is asking voters to sign-off on an $85 million loan that would result in a tax increase.
The matter will appear as a referendum on the May 20 Primary Election ballot. All registered voters, including independent voters, can vote on the referendum question, which will read:
"Shall debt in the sum of eighty-five million dollars for the purpose of financing new construction and renovations for the State College Area High School be authorized to be incurred as debt approved by the electors?"
The total project cost is estimated at $115 million with a 5.3 percent interest rate and a term of 30 years. The $30 million balance will be funded through the appropriation of a current tax.
The 7.2 percent tax increase will be determined based on a property's assessed value – not the market value. The district calculated the percentage tax increase based on the 2013-2014 property tax rate of 38.75 mills, or $38.75 per $1,000 of assessed value.
For example, for a property with a $100,000 market value, the assessed value of the property would be $28,409 and the estimated annual tax would be $79 or $7 a month.
For a property with a $200,000 market value, the assessed value would be $63,920, and the estimated annual tax would be $178 or $15 a month.
This figure only reflects the new tax to cover the high school project, not the existing property tax owed to the school district. If voters approve the referendum, the related tax would show up as a separate line item on a taxpayer's bill and be in addition to the regular school district tax rate.
The referendum tax would remain in effect until the debt for the high school is paid in full, which is an estimated 30 years.
The district has been working on a plan for the deteriorating and outdated high school campus since 2009. School officials have held a slew of public forums to address questions and concerns related to the project.