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State College Area School District Goes Online Looking for 'High School Project' Buy-in

by on June 05, 2013 7:15 AM

The State College school board is going the extra mile to get community buy-in for the new high school project. A new webpage is now devoted to the ongoing debate, and transparency is the watchword. A similar high school building project crashed and burned a few years back after angry residents complained they weren't included in the process.

Have a question about the State College Area School District's high school project? Did you miss a community forum or board meeting? All of the project-related information is now online. 

State High: The Next 50 Years was launched this spring in an effort to offer residents constantly-updated information on the ongoing project, which will go to referendum in November. School board of directors president Penni Fishbaine said while a revamped State College Area School District website, as a whole, will be revealed in the summer, the board wanted a page devoted to the high school project available sooner. 

"The Board wanted to make sure people could receive information on our high school project in a user-friendly manner, and the information would be easy to find," Fishbaine says. "Rather than needing to view multiple places and read through board meeting and workshop minutes, people can now find information on the high school project in a succinct and easy-to-understand manner."

On the homepage, the high school project website features various renderings of what a modern school would look like. The subsection "A New State High" outlines various concepts and potential building sites for a new school. A 'Current Facilities' tab gives visitors a look at the current state of the two high school buildings. 

Other topics include "Educational Goals" and "Process and Timeline." The "Referendum" section contains information on the yes-or-no, one-question vote planned for November. "Financial" has details about project funding along with a property tax estimator. 

You can also sign up for email alerts to keep up to date on everything related to the high school project. 

The district recently hired the survey firm Social Science Research Solutions, which is conducting a random survey of residents throughout the district. District officials said the firm is about to begin sending out the next round of surveys. The number of respondents so far is not yet available.

"If people received the survey and want more information, they could now go to www.scasd.org and look under 'High School Project - NEW,' or go to www.scasd.org/statehighfuture. It is about outreach and transparency. Our list of "frequently asked questions keeps growing because at every meeting we update the questions and the pros and cons for each concept," Fishbaine says. "The pros and cons were asked at all the 'Community Conversations,' at the last Forum, and at the last Community Engagement Action Team meeting. It is found under 'concepts' [on the website] so people can see what other people are saying in the community."

The website, the referendum and the survey are each a part of the board's vision from the beginning: to be as transparent as possible throughout this entire process. 

"We want feedback," Fishbaine says. "For this project, we must make the decision regarding the high school that best reflects the community's desire for the high school. We need to understand how much the community would agree to invest in the high school and get their permission to build it."



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