“Free” Land Comes at a “Price” to ASD

School Board Solicitor Lee Price said Armstrong School District board directors are required to sign a 'Declaration of Gift' from Sherry Family Trust to receive the 68-acre land in Manor Township off Route 442 to build their new 7-12 school. Such stipulations in the declaration, include a finder's fee payment to Allegheny Real Estate, agreeing to pay all legal fees during closing and allowing Trust representatives to tap in to sewer or water lines on the property at no cost if the other 1oo-acre parcel is developed.

by Jonathan Weaver

The Sherry Family Trust has about a dozen stipulations for what must be done if the Armstrong School District indeed wants their donated land.

Before the family gives the school district the deed for the 68-acre parcel in Manor Township near Buffington Road off Route 422, school board members must agree to several items under the family’s ‘Declaration of Gift,’ including that the parcel will indeed primarily be used for a school, something Solicitor Lee Price said Trust advisors were very “animate” about.

“There are several conditions to this gift, and if we accept this document, we’re going to live with those conditions,” Price said.

Other conditions Board directors must agree to include paying Allegheny Real Estate of Kittanning a $70,000 finder’s fee, designating $35,000 into an escrow account, reimburse the family for any legal fees and allow the Trust to tap into any sewage and water lines without fee from the school district if established.

Armstrong School District must also agree to build the grades 7-12 school within two years – a year ahead of L.R. Kimball Architect’s schedule. The school is currently planned to open for the 2015-16 school year.

Price and Board members hope to tweak the language of such clause that the building only need to be built or under construction at such time, which L.R. Kimball Representatives John Hummel and Brian Hayes said would be no problem.

“It would be past the point of no return by then,” Hayes said.

The real estate company is said to be ‘actively’ promoting the other 100-acre parcel, which is part of a Keystone Opportunity Zone. Both parcels are said to be valued at approximately $700,000 (which if Board directors sign Monday are not to dispute).

Agreeing to the above stipulations and more might ensure the District receives an additional $35,000 cash donation.

While Price is discussing the legal stipulations, architects will be on the new site performing environmental and wetland studies next week. A preliminary coal seam exploration produced positive results for the construction crews.

“We drilled four holes in areas where we thought anything that would reveal a mine void and we did not hit anything, so we’re satisfied that a mining issue is no longer an issue,” Hayes said.

However, the land must also be explored for coal mines after geotechnical statistics are further known, which won’t be until after more details about the building are determined.

L.R Kimball Segment Leader John Hummel (left) and Project Manager Brian Hayes told school board directors at their open caucus session last night that surveying work will commence this week. They also asked for board directors to sign off on the first two PlanCon documents provided to the Pennsylvania Department of Education and presented more details regarding the new grades 7-12 school in Manor Township.

Hayes and school administrators ‘made some tweaks’ and devised a three-story, 166,750 square-foot school built on the donated site’s plateau.

“We had to be pretty compact and efficient with the land – it’s not as if we had that much room to spread out up there because it does kinda go off the edge,” Hayes said.

On the ‘quiet side’ of the school will be a 4,000 square-foot library and department-grouped classrooms. Portions of all three floors will accomodate senior high schools due to an increased enrollment. More than 30 junior high classrooms will be on the first and second floors. The third floor science rooms would be used entirely by senior high students.

Junior high students would also have a different cafeteria than the senior high, with the kitchen being in-between.

On the other side of the school would be a nearly 1,000-seat auditorium, 1,200-seat gymnasium, an auxiliary gym and chorus, band and technical classrooms.

“Although there are many different types of building layouts, this is the one most efficient for the program we have to keep below the (PlanCon) efficiency levels,” Hayes said.

The current school map does not include athletic stadiums, which Hayes said are not reimbursable by the State and construction bids are received at a later time.

“Because of the budget situation, we want to make sure you get the building and site developed first,” Hayes said.

The projected school layout also allows for possible classroom expansion, particularly if West Shamokin Jr. – Sr. High would be closed in the future due to a decline in enrollment.

“If the population shrunk to the point where this (District) may have to become one high school, that would be the goal to try and accommodate those students,” Hayes said. “That would be way down the road, but we wanted to provide that open end corridor so you could add those extra classrooms, however many you may need.”

Information regarding the projected school is to be given to public taxpayers via the June school newsletter and on the District website.

School board members authorized L.R. Kimball to continue their work and are expected to agree on PlanCon A&B work completed at Monday’s regular meeting.

Before the meeting was adjourned, Board President Joseph Close and Vice-President Christopher Choncek said they met with Apollo-Ridge School District board representatives last week, who agreed to take students from South Bend Township should they secede from Armstrong. However, they stipulated that secession agreements be ‘substantial’ before an agreement is further considered.

The projected school layout as shown to school board directors and public taxpayers last night

  • By JornJensen, May 11, 2012 @ 8:40 AM

    Sure would be kind of Allegheny Real Estate to forgive us taxpayers on the $70,000. After all, they’ll make a bucket of money when the other 100 acres sells.

  • By goober, May 11, 2012 @ 9:39 AM

    it should not surprize anyone they want to tap in for free. strange though it comes out now after the fact. people knew something was coming just not the total degree yet. what is the substantial agreement with apollo? can you feel it coming?

  • By nonamerequired, May 11, 2012 @ 10:20 AM

    Jorn- It sure would be kind if all ASD students had the opportunities of this new school, but I guess there is no sense beating a dead horse, huh?

  • By nonamerequired, May 11, 2012 @ 10:40 AM

    Also, real cost? Anyone have a ballpark? Or is out of the ballpark by now?

  • By Elliot, May 11, 2012 @ 11:55 AM

    Jorn –
    I understand what you are saying. My first thought was, “That’s a steep commission.” Regardless of what we might think of what Allegheny Real Estate stands to gain, we must remember that ASD will receive this land at 10 cents on the dollar. Also, it seems like Allegheny has been trying to sell this land for 10-20 years. I’d say they deserve a return on their investment.

    Admin-
    I know I’m going take flak for this, but if you want your paper to be taken seriously as a real news outlet, either hire an editor or buy Jonathan a dictionary. The word is “adamant” not “animate.”

  • By DrDeer, May 11, 2012 @ 1:16 PM

    How long has the subject property been for sale and at what price? If $70,000 was the realtor fee to Allegheny, that amount was probably at top selling price. This tells me the property was over price. I could see paying a realtor fee, but not $70,000. It is my understanding the Sherry Family Trust approached ASD on gifting the property to ASD. If ASD would not take the gifted property, Allegheny could put it back on the market for another 5 or 10 years and good luck trying to sell it. If it was me, $35,000 would be a fair price for Allegheny. We all must work and sacrifice for the better of the community. Allegheny will benefit in the long run.

  • By sickofpayingforit, May 11, 2012 @ 1:19 PM

    I know where there are several atheltic facilities, that are already built! One in Ford City, one in Kittanning, and one out at West Shamokin. Let’s just use those! I don’t wish to work to pay for a mini-Heinz Field. It is flambouyance and ego-stroking, plain and simple. Let’s stop the bleeding before we do the plastic surgery, shall we?

    Jeesh……….

  • By billbell, May 11, 2012 @ 1:49 PM

    It’s interesting how the other paper portrays the meeting versus this article.

  • By billbell, May 11, 2012 @ 1:54 PM

    I hope that the tax payers of the district are not expected to pay for these students to attend AR!

  • By newvoice, May 11, 2012 @ 5:51 PM

    Wonder how long it’s going to take to hear…The School Board owns enough ground in the West Hills to build a SUPER SCHOOL!

  • By Jeff Miller, May 12, 2012 @ 1:32 PM

    Jorn
    I have been reading your posts on this site for a long time and generally I agree with most of your thoughts. Unfortunately, I think that it is a little out of line of you to ask anyone to donate their time. Please remember that the agents of Allegheny Real Estate whoever they are have probably dedicted countless hours to putting this transaction together. I feel pretty certain you and others do not donate your time when you go to work. Remember these folks derive their income from putting real estate deals together. The District is getting a bargain and should be more than happy to pay the $70,000 as a fee as opposed to having to purchase the land.

  • By admin, May 13, 2012 @ 3:05 PM

    Thanks, Elliot, for the correction. Unfortunately spell check did not pick up the difference since I know Jonathan knows the difference. That being said, the criteria for a “real” news outlet is not absence of mistakes in grammar. It is based on the art of communication and readership. We have accomplished both in this article. However, please continue to point out our mistakes. We want to be the best we can be. Iron sharpens iron, so sincere criticism assists us in becoming better. For that, I am grateful to you and others who regularly remind us to “get it right!”

    P.S. If anyone is available at 4AM to proofread, I would appreciate it too! :)

  • By The Phantom, May 13, 2012 @ 8:51 PM

    Admin…. I’m not opposed to a misspelled word here or there. I knew what he meant. At least you didn’t sugar coat the article and place the money payment to Allegheny well into the substance of the article like some other “newspaper” did.

  • By JornJensen, May 13, 2012 @ 10:43 PM

    nonamerequired – Agree, and that was a part of my talk to what was apparently 1000 people at the HB1776 Property Tax Indepence Act rally at the Capitol building in Harrisburg. I explained the recent history of ASD school boards and the latest one ‘stuck’ with the $80 million and providing a new high school to some of our high school students while others are looking at secession.

    Jeff Miller – I hear you, and good to hear feedback. I don’t think they’ve worked all that hard for the 70 grand. Come on. But, the real estate market in our area is dead, so they do need every dollar they can get just to survive.
    Anyhow, HB1776 will really help real estate in Armstrong County – the burden of school property taxes, especially here in the ASD area, keeps people from buying here (that’s why people buy in Butler County at about 1/2 the property tax rate of our area), so realtors do struggle for commissions – replace school property taxes with increased income and sales taxes (we DO have to pay for schools in some fashion) and watch real estate move again in Armstrong County. The real estate market is VERY important – just remember what took the economy to the tank in 2007/2008. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae ring a bell? Also, without the property tax, you don’t need assessments or the costly re-assessments – no need for either. A typical Pennsylvania County reassessment averages $10,000,000. That’s $10,000,000 of wasted ‘make work’ for no gain for anyone.

    Back to the topics in the article above – the 2 year condition – one caution – costs – have to be careful on fast and furious construction costs – overtime at prevailing wages can eat a lot of dollars fast for an artificial deadline.

  • By ASDpayer, May 14, 2012 @ 12:08 AM

    @Jorn

    So enlighten me on how this works. We fund schools not at the local level but at the state level through sales tax and income tax. Do you give each district a set amount based on pupil population—say $8000 per student, no matter where you live? How does a district build a new school? Do they have to go to the legislature or Department of Education and request funding? Does this mean districts with political clout get funding while those without lobbyists get nothing? What does this do for teacher contracts which are often in the 3-5 year range, if sales and income tax revenues fall short? Do we give up local control to administrators in Harrisburg (read bureaucrats)? Have you run the numbers to tell us how much income tax and sales tax will have to increase to replace property taxes? And were the numbers run by non-partisan organizations? In Western PA there is a wide disparity in per pupil spending and quality of schools. How will this plan effect various districts? Is this a completely baked idea, or a one third baked idea? I have read the Commonwealth Foundation’s review, and it seems incomplete and partisan.

  • By Kittanning Lady, May 14, 2012 @ 5:32 AM

    I would like to know how much this school is going to cost.”I mean a real cost.” I can’t see how this school that was presented can cost 52 million. I would like to know being a taxpayer in the Armstrong School District. Also,like I have said before “people talk” The name for the new school is already being considered to be Edgewood Jr/Sr High School and the mascot will be the eagles.I know some will go on here and say ooh there she goes again rumors.What about the election when the candidates said that there was NO “MYTHICAL NEW HIGH SCHOOL”. I think that if this school board wants support from the public they should come clean about the real costs for this project.

  • By JornJensen, May 14, 2012 @ 5:50 AM

    ASDpayer – Lot of good questions – glad you’re interested. Your questions can all be answered by going to Representative Jim Cox’x website – not allowed to link it, but you can find it easy enough. He represents western Berks County.
    Right now, the projections are to take the 3.07% state income tax to 4% and sales tax from 6% to 7%.
    Typically, I’d agree with you regarding ‘giving more to Harrisburg’, but a quick study of the 40-some years of the ASD ‘stuck in the mud’ should clarify that the state department of education could and should make better decisions than what we’ve had with local politics. These are ‘qualified’ people that would have to use data and facts to administer. There would still be school boards – and, for school boards to do something ‘out of the ordinary’, the school boards would have to present a binding referendum for the people to vote on, such as a local levy to provide something above and beyond, but it would not be a property tax.
    This idea has beeen around for a long time and has been tried between the ‘parties’ – where it never made it was ideas of partial or ‘stepped’ implementation – HB1776 does a complete switchover and then, for the immediate future, funds the districts at the present funding rate.
    Get more answers from Jim Cox’s website.

    The Property Tax Independence Act will let seniors stay in their paid-off homes without having to pay tax rent forever. If they buy a new car, they’ll pay an extra percent sales tax.

    The Property Tax Independence Act will ‘free up’ the real estate market as the chains of property tax are gone from the real estate buyers – makes an easier sale for the real estate folks – pay the sales tax once.

  • By csmp, May 14, 2012 @ 8:41 AM

    I am very interested in this. I really do like the idea of my shopping habits making my choices. I am not a fan of any tax, yet I do realize some are needed. I am going to Check out more on this bill-1776 is that the correct bill? I think more should also. Anything to work towards taxes that are not “FORCED” on our society should be a priority of us all. Next step would be to try and get rid of the unconstitutional income tax. Thanks for doing what you are doing for all of us. To make it clear, before I do get into looking up this “bill” what percent of sales tax and Income tax hike are we talking in bill 1776?

  • By csmp, May 14, 2012 @ 8:47 AM

    I cut and pasted, and did not take out the “bill number part”, as I see it in your post above. Thanks.
    ASD payer great questions.

  • By Elderton Parent, May 14, 2012 @ 9:41 AM

    billbell-the residents of South Bend Twp are requesting ASD to pay tuition until the secession is completed. There is documentation that says there will be a $250,000 savings if ASD pays the tuition. I don’t think that includes transportation but I’m not sure. Apollo Ridge will be discussing at their meeting next Monday 21st. I don’t know if ASD is discussing publically or not.

  • By csmp, May 14, 2012 @ 9:46 AM

    Drdeer- Sorry, but your collectivism is so Orson Wells 1984. We are all individuals. If you guys are not happy with the way Allegheny Real estate is making their money why not as an individual never use their service. Tell people that you know using their services about this situation and let them make a choice as individuals if they want to continue using their services. I help out (volunteer) my community as much as I can but that is my choice. Your remark reminded me of another quote
    “…we understand only the individual’s capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow men.” — Adolf Hitler, 10-7-33

  • By Kittanning Lady, May 14, 2012 @ 1:28 PM

    I saw on the TV about Radon gas.Will they test for this gas at the new school site? Is this test included with the costs or does the school district have to ask for this test separately?? Jorn dear,do you know the answer or does anyone else?I think safety should be our first concern not a time limit.

  • By JornJensen, May 14, 2012 @ 2:48 PM

    ASDpayer – You sound ‘down’ on the idea of property tax elimination. Please list all of the good things about the present property tax system in Pennsylvania.

    I’ll start the list off with the first two and then you continue the list – okay?

    1. A person with 10 kids in the school district that doesn’t own property doesn’t pay property taxes, so increased sales and income taxes would be a negative to such person.

    2. A wealthy person that earns a lot of income and spends a lot of it, but owns a very small modest property won’t like the increased income and sales tax.

    3.

    4.

    I realize that my support of HB1776 might make me sound a little like a share-the-wealth tax-and-spend democrat – but I’m not. In a statewide property tax elimination, Armstrong County and the ASD would stand to gain from the wealthier counties of Pennsylvania – that would be sharing the wealth like the guy in DC keeps pushing. Follow me?

  • By GetSmart, May 15, 2012 @ 7:56 AM

    @ Jorn: I am all in favor of an alternative to property tax. A sales tax would be nice, as long as it assures proper income. I am not sure that can be done.

    @csmp: Great point!

    However, I am going to go in a different direction here. Forgive me, but there is no other topic here to bring this up. But then, it is no more off point than an article about free land becoming a debate over property taxes and politics.

    Quite frankly, it has been quite refreshing to see things come together on the new school without the dredded “Republican/Democrat or Liberal/Conservative” issues being used at sway things, (except in some posts here).

    Since it appears we are finally moving forward with the new school project, let’s talk facilities, or more so, proper planning for facilities.
    I assume there will be a new “multiple purpose” sports stadium, (football field, soccer, track). I think it might be time for the local communities involved to get together to help make Friday nights something special. Most high schools are going to some form of artificial turf fields, and for a good reason. More students using the facility for more things and taking the Western PA weather out of the equation. They are very expensive, but there is a distinct ROI, (return on investment). How about some type of private funding. How about a donor gets the stadium naming rights. Or a “wall or walk of recognition” naming donors. Maybe booster clubs getting together to promote a turf field and helping raise funds. Maybe a participation fee by participants.
    Whether some like it or not, sports continue to be important to our area and part of our heritage.
    The key is, start planning now and get some ideas circulating. Rather than listen to all the naysayers, it is exciting to think what might happen if all these communities pull together for a common cause.
    I am not putting athletics first, but considering the movement afoot with the new school, this needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
    The best way to bring communities together is working toward a connon goal.

  • By ASDpayer, May 15, 2012 @ 8:28 AM

    @csmp

    Just a note. George Orwell wrote 1984. Orson Wells made the movie, Citizen Kane and the famous radio show based on the H.G. Wells novel, War of the Worlds. O Well.

  • By pacountrygirl, May 15, 2012 @ 9:10 AM

    This new school will produce a lot of additional sewage which is not being addressed. Interesting thing is none of the existing plants are big enough to take on the extra amount. The plants at Kittanning, Manorville or Ford City none are large enough, so any one of them would have to be expanded or the school would have to build their own. This has the potential of costing an extra $10 million or so. This board continues to give us no information on true costs. Truth is they will never build this school for the 50 some million they have. Are there more secrets to keep us uninformed? Jorn, I totally agree with doing away with the property tax and increasing the sales tax. As a senior citizen, it is a terrible thing to have to worry about losing your home. Please keep us informed.

  • By DrDeer, May 15, 2012 @ 10:05 AM

    csmp-”Ask not what your Country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your Country.” John F. Kennedy, 1-20-1961

    “Take a hike, by yourself.”
    DrDeer, 5-15-2012

  • By bweitzel, May 15, 2012 @ 11:51 AM

    @ Kittanning Lady

    My home was mitigated for radon years ago, I can tell you that it is a fairly inexpensive and easy fix. The system is installed and then testing is done every three years or so to insure that it is operating properly. East test costs approximately $10-15, which includes the lab fee.

    I do not know the specifics of a building the size of a school, but I do know that new home construction is typically done with radon gas in mind. The foundation is built to be radon resistant (this was the case with my mother-in-law’s new house).

    Perhaps a professional could answer your question more accurately than I can, but I don’t believe a piece of land can be “tested for radon gas.”

    Google “radon gas in Pennsylvania” and you will find a ton of information that may put your mind at ease. Tell me Kitanning Lady, has your home ever been tested?

  • By ASDpayer, May 15, 2012 @ 2:42 PM

    @Jorn

    Well I did my homework about HB 1776. I am unsure. I looked at Cox’s website and it does have a lot of information. I read the entire HB 1776 bill, and it is surely couched in some of the most boring language written since I read since I took an astronomy class. So here are my questions:

    1. No where do I see a running of the numbers. How much money will an increase of 1% in the sales tax and 2% in the income tax actually produce?

    2. What happens in an economic downturn? If sales tax revenues and income taxes drop 5% or 10% what happens? Do you raise taxes some more? In most school districts the budget is 80-90 percent salaries. Do you cut salaries? Probably not a selling point.

    3. The list of newly taxed entities in the Rep Cox’s plan all have special interest groups that will oppose them. Really a tax on coffins? (wow, death and taxes)

    4. According to your point of view, I will probably save thousands of dollars, but I am cautious. I need more convincing and so do most people. Is this a bill supported by the fringes of political life, or have significant numbers signed on?

  • By maddog, May 15, 2012 @ 8:10 PM

    So Close thanked the Snyders and the Sherrys huh? Sounds like Snyders had their fingers in this to me!

    There’s no such thing as free land when it will cost millions just to put some infrastructure in there. Sherrys wanted 1.7 million for that whole site and now they’re “giving” 68 acres out of the goodness of their heart I see they’re longtime Don White supporters and don’t even live in Armstrong County. Conspiracy theorists rejoice! I’d say you were right on the money!

  • By maddog, May 15, 2012 @ 8:11 PM

    And by the way wonder how the biker club feels about getting a school next door?

  • By JornJensen, May 15, 2012 @ 11:14 PM

    ASDpayer – Thank you for doing that research and taking a look at the whole thing. Agree, reading the actual bill is a painful experience – about 170 pages of painful experience.

    I don’t profess to have the answers, but I have direct access to the source, so I will go after answers.

    Agree with GetSmart (by the way, do you have a shoe phone and a Sunbeam Tiger convertible? – I like the screen name) – we need a story on property taxes so we can all go forth and back on the topic – for now, this school topic will have to do, I guess.

    To ASDpayer’s questions –
    1. 1% sales tax increase and 0.93% income tax increase, not 2% – running of the numbers to see if this is sufficient? I’ll research that. Remember, this tax change only covers normal operating expenses, not major capital expenditures. We’ll still be ‘on the hook’ for the 80 million, which was decided by as few as 9 people. Under HB1776, such capital decisions will be made by binding referendum by all voters in the district – then, if a mistake or bad judgement is made, then we all have all of us to blame, not just 9 people. I owe you the math and I will attempt to acquire it.

    2. Economic downturn? Good question. Again, more research. My right-wing answer would be the same as in industry – cut back to stay afloat. That’s a tough sell to folks feeding at the public trough and wanting protections from even things that can’t be protected by anything other than raising taxes in bad times. This property tax elimination won’t suit everyone – just takes a majority to make it happen. Remember too, that in bad economic times, more people lose their homes for the inability to pay their property taxes – so that dollar stream dries up some also. Of course, just tax the rest more and keep-on-a-going.

    3. Expanded taxes in sales – yes, special interests will object and lobby against something – have to raise the money somehow in order to do away with school property taxes. Even coffins – the undertakers’ guild will fight bones and bones on that one.
    What I don’t like about this bill is that it doesn’t assume our 80 million debt – I’d like to pass that debt around the state, but it appears that I won’t have my way on that.

    4. I observed during the rally at the Capitol building that the signing was bi-partisan on the big poster of the ‘act’ in the rotunda. Obviously, that was ceremonial, not actual legislation-signing.
    For me, I don’t think I’ll save any money on this – maybe a wash, because, due to my work, monthly expenses are high and they will be sales-taxed at 1% greater than they are now. I make a sizeable income, so that will be state-taxed at almost one percent higher. But, some will benefit from it. The point is to spread the burden of school system support out to more people so each’ portion is smaller. Right now, property owners are carrying the whole boat. The ones taking the hard hit are the long-time retired on fixed lower incomes, lower pensions, trying to pay school property taxes. But, under HB1776, they’ll still pay some money in sales taxes – we all have to buy to exist.

    Sorry, this post became longer than it should.

    pacountrygirl – You state a key point – many are very willing to get rid of a tax, but we’re all responsible for paying for public education, so it has to be funded by us, somehow. So, you state correctly – more sales tax – we have to be willing to do that. The original PA sales tax of 1953 was established for the sole purpose of funding public education. So, where did that good idea go?
    I will do as you request – I will keep the group and the KP informed on this and I’ll stay very active in it. I’ll try my best to keep my ‘slant’ out of it – just the facts.

  • By scott_starr, May 16, 2012 @ 12:01 AM

    I am in favor of a different method of funding for Schools, but I am not sure a Sales Tax is the way to go.

    In a growing economy it will work, however in a stagnant economy, the costs of operating the schools will rise while tax reciepts remain the same, it is a potential disaster.
    The current system is not much better, if at all. The answer is very complicated.

    In general, before changing the funding methods, one should look at how to change the expenditures. For example:

    1. Stop Unfunded Mandates
    2. Revise the retirement plan for employees
    3. Revise the health benefits plan
    4. Modernize the school year
    5. Modernize and “right size” districts (if possible).
    6. Change School Management ( do we really need 1 Superintendant per school?).

    Etc. These are just ideas. Some will work some will not, but take this opportunity to modernize education. ( unfortunately you need folks not involved in education to do this or the answer will be to throw more educators at the problem).

  • By Kittanning Lady, May 16, 2012 @ 5:07 AM

    Thank You, bweitzel for the information. I can’t recall my house being tested.I will look up this information.

  • By Kittanning Lady, May 16, 2012 @ 5:14 AM

    @ maddog ,The club of which you speak is an Outlaw chapter house.This organization has had this house for many years. The chapter house is a meeting place for all Outlaw members even out of town members who come to visit. I have no idea what will happen to the club when they build the new school. I do know they do not like people going near this house.I know of this because of acquaintances I have known. Like I said this organization has been there for many years.

  • By JornJensen, May 16, 2012 @ 6:38 AM

    Get Smart – I like your idea of booster clubs working hard to create better facilities for the sports side of education.

    One Idea that I’ve seen that works very well is by the booster club of the Colonel Crawford school district in Galion, Ohio. Thay do many fundraisers and do good things for their school district – here’s the really sharp thing that they do – they know that they can’t just ‘pound’ the local people for money, so they’ve gone into (years ago) an annual Corvette raffle. This year, they had an aqua 57 Corvette – I couldn’t resist – I bought a ‘quantity of tickets’ at the ‘price break level’. This was a serious money-level car. The drawing was in April – I didn’t get a call. On the booster’s website, they list what all they do for their school district’s sports programs – I recall astroturf being one of many upgrades that they funded.

    Raffling a very valuable collectible car is a big undertaking and takes a lot of volunteers, work and advertising, but once established, regulars seek it out every year and the advertising expense goes down = net more money per car. I don’t know, dollarwise, how successful their car raffles are, but they sure seem to do a lot for the sports programs in the district.

  • By JornJensen, May 16, 2012 @ 8:05 AM

    Scott_Starr – AGREE, AGREE, AGREE! Excellent post! Academia running academia is a sure train wreck. They need a dose of business realities – making financially responsible decisions to ‘stay in business’. The current system of draining the system will drain the system.

    Our ‘leaders’ have become so ingrained in complying AND passing the ‘blame’ to complying with mandates that it is sickening. For crying out loud, just say NO! Show some guts, and, see what results from that. I remember our prior commissioners justifying something stupid based on mandates. Come on!

    If sales tax is not the way to go, please suggest a better funding vehicle than property tax. Remember, the 1953 sales tax law was intended soley to fund public education, and, back then, it worked. I believe that sales tax increase is the way to go to eliminate school property taxes mainly because we ALL have to buy stuff to exist, so we all share in the burden of paying for public education, and, with ALL ‘in’, we each each pay a smaller share.

  • By fatboyonthehill, May 16, 2012 @ 12:57 PM

    I agree with Mr. Miller when it comes down to being duly compensated for ones efforts. One thing that must be verified though, is the agreed selling price of the land. A finder’s fee is generally 10%. I don’t want to see anyone getting duped one way or the other. As far as the sales tax question goes, look at it like this: it is pretty much “loophole proof” if you tax everything. Remove the property taxes (property taxes pretty much makes anyone that owns property an indentured servant)Now everyone has “skin in the game”. This could work well for repealing property taxes as a whole and taxes on income (re: indentured servitude) and then maybe this country could be somewhat free again.

  • By cartman, May 16, 2012 @ 1:07 PM

    First of all, what is so bad about the Snyders? Those I have met seem like nice people. As for the idea of increasing the sales tax, I find that really stupid, especially in these economic times. Why not start another lottery for education? It has worked well in other states.

  • By Jerri, May 16, 2012 @ 1:44 PM

    Kittanning Lady-I wonder how many people know that the Outlaws property borders this school? According to the maps, it shows 50 acres owned by them. And you are right, they’ve been there since they were called the Los Barbados. The chapter house has bikers from all over the country visiting at any time. This is ridiculous. Of all the places in Armstrong County, only this board would consider building their dream school next to the Outlaws clubhouse. Honestly. This is not good judgement on the district’s part.

    I have heard the rumors about the “Edgewood Eagles” sports teams. I guess the people involved think we’re Philly fans!

    I suggest in honor of the school district’s new neighbors we call the school Outlaw High School and have the mascots be called the Hogs! I can just hear them singing their new school anthem…Get your motor runnin’…head out to that highway…

    Good one ASD!

  • By worthingtonman, May 16, 2012 @ 3:49 PM

    Just wondering when was the last time we have heard of any of the outlaws making trouble around here? It’s just a lot of hype. Many moons ago there were some serious problems with murders and such, but the club has seemed to morphed into something different.

  • By ASDpayer, May 16, 2012 @ 6:52 PM

    @Jorn

    Well I have been doing research. A movement in Michigan to eliminate the property tax finds some interesting numbers and projections.

    Michigan has a similar population and economic base. To eliminate the property tax would take a sales tax increase from 6 percent to 11 percent and and income tax rate of 9 percent. To fund schools in Michigan takes property tax totals of 40 billion dollars. Probably about the same in PA.
    Unless you have some real numbers, that contradict this, I say no thanks to the idea.

  • By JornJensen, May 17, 2012 @ 6:22 AM

    ASDpayer – Are you a property owner?

    24 billion dollars per year in PA. A little over 1/2 of Michigan’s budget. Also, on the PA sales tax increase, there would be more items taxed as you’re aware from your study of HB1776, including clothing above $50 selling price (each piece).

    I’d think Michigan is in a lot more trouble than Pennsylvania. That is where the death of the US auto industry has hit hardest, and it will probably be the last state to go right-to-work. Probably a toss-up between Michigan and Illinois for last.

    Regardless of ‘rates’, the theory of property tax elimination is to eliminate a ‘forced’ tax on some and create/expand a ‘choice’ tax on all – spreads the burden out. Fairly simple and easy to understand. Whatever the final numbers are, they are – we must pay for public education.

    An additional benefit to sales tax expansion is that any ‘visitors’ to Pennsylvania will help us to pay for our public education.

    It’s all really quite simple.

  • By pacountrygirl, May 17, 2012 @ 8:35 AM

    Jorn, you are so right on. I have said for years that the sales tax is more fair to everyone. Unlike property tax it depends more on your income and ability to pay. If you can afford to buy a new car versus my ability to only afford a used car, then you pay the higher tax. My elderly parents were still paying property taxes years after, I their youngest child, was out of school. Plus as you said, anyone passing through our state and purchasing taxable items, help add to our “kitty”. Sounds like a win/win situation. I don’t know the figures as to how much of an increase in the sales tax or income tax, it would take to end up with the same or more money, but other states do not depend on property taxes to support their schools, so we should be able to do it also.

  • By JornJensen, May 17, 2012 @ 10:42 AM

    I’d like to present a balanced view on this tax topic that I’m ‘pushing’. No government ‘solution’ to ‘problems’ will suit everyone, If you have a current school property tax bill of $5,000, $70,000 worth of purchases would have to be made per year to pay an equivalent sales tax. If your current school property tax bill is $200 per year, then you’d have to spend $2800 per year to pay an equivalent sales tax.
    Now, stand back and look at it – do you gain or lose from legislation that eliminates school property taxes? If your school property taxes are only $200 per year and you’re spending money on wide screen TV’s, new cars, and all sorts of other neat stuff, then you’re probably better off to keep on paying the LOW school property tax.

    On the Representative Jim Cox website, there is a ‘calculator’ – you plug in your numbers and see where you’re at. If you pay zero school property taxes, there would surely be no gain for you with increased sales and income taxes.

    Does everyone realize that property taxes of any kind, in Pennsylvania, are a locally ‘ruled’ tax? That they are not a ‘state’ or Commonwealth tax? Property taxes are a ‘forced’ tax that your local elected officials (neighbors) force upon you. Here is a case where your ‘friendly’ state government is coming in to ‘help’ make things more equitable. I realize that there’s not much trust in such a solution, but time will show you that local solutions to problems tend to be more unfair than state or fed solutions to problems. And, no, I’m not a ‘big gubment’ person – I’m for less gubment.

  • By fatboyonthehill, May 17, 2012 @ 12:44 PM

    @ worthingtonman: The Outlaws are the Outlaws. A 1% motorcycle club. Having said that, if you leave them be, I’m pretty sure that they will leave you alone.

  • By ASDpayer, May 17, 2012 @ 2:41 PM

    @ Jorn

    Yes, I do own property. I found more numbers. We will spend about 65 billion dollars in PA this year on K-12 education and that includes the 25 billion that comes from the state. So the increase in sales tax and income tax has to raise 40 billion dollars. I don’t think a 1% increase in sales and income taxes will raise that kind of money.

    Also, most economists rank the sales tax as the most regressive tax as it takes a larger percentage of the income of the poor. By taxing food, it becomes even more regressive. (for a larger discussion of regressive taxes see Samuelson’s text on economics first published in 1965 and revised a number of times)

    I am not sure what the auto industry or right to work laws have to do with the issue at hand, but o well. I think to replace the property tax you will have to raise taxes much more than you think.

  • By Jan, May 17, 2012 @ 3:00 PM

    WOW- we have gone from slamming the Snyder family to looking for other nonsense reasons for the new building site— the Outlaws? really??? Someone might be dating themselves to want to go that route! They are history- and besides… many a professional person drives a Harley, etc. these days, wears a black leather jacket, sports a tatoo, etc…. are they bad too? Really folks- stay on topic and quit looking for negative reasons for the new building site. The site will make a beautiful site for a new school and one that is very close to a central location. This is almost getting ridiculously funny.

  • By dalereese67, May 17, 2012 @ 3:57 PM

    Jerri, sounds like sour grapes. I hope the new letterman jackets are all leather and come with a pair of chaps! jk

  • By cartman, May 18, 2012 @ 7:27 AM

    ASDpayer is right. The sales tax is one of the most regressive of all taxes. I am not defending the property tax, as I think it is onerous and unfair. Perhaps a local income tax would work. I have to admit that I am at somewhat of a loss for a fair solution. If all funding came from the state, the load would at least be equalized from district to district. I still like the lottery idea. Nobody would be forced to pay, yet people are eager to lay their money down. It at least deserves some thought, as it has worked well in other states. Also, I like the idea of a referendum on school budgets. This has also worked well in other states. With a referendum, Elderton would probably have never reopened, and the $80 million problem might not exist. At least the public would have themselves to blame.

  • By JornJensen, May 18, 2012 @ 8:17 AM

    ASDpayer – Can you cite the source of your higher numbers?
    The 24 billion number comes from the Representative Jim Cox team that is working on this project and can be found on his website. Does that mean it’s real? I don’t know, but if I were a legislator, I’d surely not publish ficticious numbers.

    I don’t think I could convince you that there are 7 days in a week. If this came down to a vote by the people, then we’d all vote as we see and understand it. Had the original borrowing of the ASD $80 million been handled by referendum by the voters instead of 9 people, do you think the outcome would have been different?

    You brought up Michigan. Michigan is in much greater trouble than Pennsylvania. It is rated one of the lowest in states in which to conduct business, therefore, the ‘poor’ population is growing there.

    Let’s go back to the basics of this thing. Please read my post of 10:42 AM, May 17, 2012. Can you make any sense of it? Can you defend property-taxing long retirees on small pensions, small SS that can’t afford the tax rent on their paid-off properties in order to be more fair to the poor (which is where these people are headed)? We have plenty of folks in the ASD that are in this situation. No one should have to lose their home to a tax – a home is shelter – one of the basics of existence.

    Again, the basic theory of property tax elimination is to eliminate a forced tax on some and expand a choice tax on all – spreads out the burden of paying for public education as we all benefit from the results of that education.

  • By sickofpayingforit, May 18, 2012 @ 4:51 PM

    Let me see if I can stay on topic here. Here is a little timeline of events:

    Solak and company borrow 80 million to renevate existing buildings.

    Lots of people rally and put a halt to those plans. Candidates for school board surface and do not state their intentions but rather just oppose everything solak and stitt have said or done.

    There is a referendum that doesn’t give the taxpayer an option to not spend any money.

    The candidates are asked their intentions on here daily, no answer.

    At a board meeting Close is firing away and Solak asks him what his plans for the 80 mil are and Close doesn’t say anything else.

    Choncek changes his story from not spending now to doing what makes sense.

    The new board is in control and it had been new school or nothing ever since.

    Now, I ask where are the dollars and cents of this monumental decision? How much payroll will we slash? What will be the differences in transportation costs? What will my tax bill be next year, in five years, in ten years?

    Folks, we have been looking at the right hand all the while the left hand has been steadily and silently raeching for our wallets. I sincerely doubt that we will realize a penny of tax savings and they will try to justify steady increases. If they knew the numbers were beneficial to those of us who pay taxes, they would say it, most assuredly. That is the MO of this board. If they don’t know or don’t want us to know, they don’t say anything and just do whatthey want to, mostly unopposed. If they raise taxes, I am probably selling my house and moving to a district that has already suffered these issues and resolved them, probably in the late 70′s. I won’t pay for a house dealer to deal from the bottom and pad their own interests. Nope.

  • By Tankster, May 18, 2012 @ 9:14 PM

    The only thing I want to hear is HOW MANY STAFFING POSITIONS WILL BE CUT! I still have not even an estimate. You are combining and closing schools and still nothing in regards to information. I am for the consolidation and the new school concept but my idea was that there was going to be some serious cost-cutting. The theory of consolidation works if costs are cut but if we have a board that is coddling the teachers and administrators then we have a new building with no savings. There should be a high amount of positions cut. Has any school board member answered this question? There are some on here who proclaim this clear path of communications to the board members so can they ask and report back? Or do these people who proclaim to have this clear path of communication just not care about saving money? they just wanted a new school to say they have one? The insulation of this board is starting to concern me very much!

  • By JornJensen, May 18, 2012 @ 10:14 PM

    sickofpayingforit – Your’s appears to be a quite accurate summary of recent years of school board events. You’re asking for information from the current board? Aren’t some of them the ones labeled ‘The Silent Seven’? What will change? Cuts? We’re looking for cuts? Some of these same board members were on the board and voted for the $4000 raise, including for family members. Are you looking for something different from the same?

    I’m done dealing with the school board. I’m now intent upon trimming their power any way possible. One way is any major spending has to be via referendum rather than 9 people. Bring it on!

    Study the quality of any of the local governance – school board, town councils, ans so forth. Look at West Kittaning and the taxpayers wanting to hire Kittanning police for police protection and it’s not on Cliff Neal’s agenda, so tough luck taxpaying public. Something about being between a rock and a hard place or an immovable object meeting something else. Unbelievable.

    Good luck selling your house in this area.

  • By ASDpayer, May 18, 2012 @ 11:32 PM

    @Jorn

    Well there are 7 days in the week. So we agree. I looked at three sources.These are the Commonwealth Foundation, the State Department of Education, and the State Association of School Boards. They all agree that the total amount of money spent on K-12 education was 67 billion dollars, for last year. 27 billion came from the state and 40 billion came from property tax. So if you do away with the property tax you have to raise the 40 billion from sales and income tax. So tell me how much your increases raise to get to that figure.

    Michigan may be poorer and such, in your view but that is beside the point. I mentioned Michigan as a similar sized state that was considering a similar proposal and it came up with figures of sales tax and income tax raises that were greater than your figures. As a point of reference it has a larger property tax base, and a higher per capita income than Pennsylvania. So your description of the state in inaccurate.

    The issue of the 80 million probably should have been approved by a referendum, but that was in the Solak regime. We got stuck with it and the new board, couldn’t give the money back without a huge penalty and so they did something constructive.

    In Armstrong County 70 percent of citizens own their domicile. The average property tax is under 1000 dollars. So if you eliminate the property tax most people will benefit. However, when you tax food and other essentials, most of the poor will pay more This is a choice?

    I don’t see this passing anyway.

  • By lucky1, May 19, 2012 @ 9:56 AM

    jorn, as with most right wingers, offers a seemingly simple solution to a complicated problem when a simple solution is anything but the right answer. The main problem with educational funding in Pennsylvania is that the state has one of the lowest contribution rates to local school districts in the nation. Depending on the year, Pennsylvania is sometimes in the bottom five of states in the percentage of revenue contributed to local school districts as compared to the nation as a whole. That, my friends, is the real problem behind higher property tax rates. The problem does not lie with local school districts, it lies with the governor and state legislature. For example, the state has already lost out on over $300 million from neglecting to enact any type of reasonable tax and/or fee on Marcellus shale gas companies, many of which are out-of-state companies. Substituting a sales tax for property tax may seem like a simple solution, but actually creates more problems than it solves. For example, a property tax provides a baseline for a school district to determine its revenue for each year. With a sales tax, a school district would never know how much it would receive in revenue from year to year. The sales tax rate would undoubtedly fluctuate from year to year depending on a number of different factors. Because I do not have as much time as jorn to post on this website because that is all he seems to do, google “problems with sales tax” to further research why a sales tax is not the ideal revenue source. One thing that must be done to alleviate many of the current problems with education in Pennsylvania is to get rid of Tom Corbett. Tom “Corporate” cares more about the profits of out-of-state gas companies than he does about the educational system in Pennsylvania. He is fast becoming the worst governor in the history of Pennsylvania. Do not even get me started how he fumbled the Jerry Sandusky investigation as attorney general, which ultimately led to the demise of Joe Paterno.

  • By jerry6, May 19, 2012 @ 6:54 PM

    lucky1: Agree with everything you say. Corbett is the worst. He promised to only serve one term and not run again.

  • By Lee, May 19, 2012 @ 8:42 PM

    Outlaws? C’mon Jan you woulda used the same thing if the it was going the other way, but Jerri really? Nice move though. FBOTH what do you mean by 1% gang? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Should we really be concerned by this? I guess if the Outlaws are still an active group in the area, (motorcycle gangs are usually supported by drug dealing) then we should be worried about the students but if these guys are a bunch of middle aged mid-life crisis kinda guys I don’t think its a true concern. Think we should be more concerned about the administrators that have the tatoos and ride the harleys and dream. Think the students are in more danger from teachers that touch them inappropriately, both sexually and violently, from administrators with computer porn, from the shenanigans that goes on with administrators messing around with other administrators and teachers and maybe some students or former students (to the point they get moved from building to building and then finally have to leave the school district) on company time, of teachers, principals, and coaches having improper relationships with students, of the union being in bed with administration to push it all under the rug. Does the building really matter? I think it’s what goes on inside that makes the difference and when you have these things going on and the supposed adults in charge doing nothing but covering up then you should worry about your kids. Doubt the Outlaws should be your main concern.

  • By JornJensen, May 19, 2012 @ 9:50 PM

    ASDpayer and lucky1 – I’ll forward your communications to Representative Jim Cox and he can answer/debate with you as he is much more knowledgeable on this topic.

    Nice couple of attacks in your post lucky1 – typical liberal.

  • By JornJensen, May 20, 2012 @ 7:50 AM

    ASDpayer – I do enjoy the debate with you as you will do research and provide data, information, references, etc.

    We agree – there’s 7 days in a week.
    We further agree, the $80 million should have been a referendum vote, not a vote by 9 people (the Solak regime). That action is what finally brought the voters out.

    On the Armstrong County 70% that own their domicile, what percent are retired/fixed income – whatever you want to call it? I’d heard or read 27% (but I cannot verify it), and, of course, that number is growing as this area becomes more of a retirement community as the young people move away in search of work. So, in your final paragragh, you defend the poor. What about the poor that have property and property taxes making them more poor? Is the answer, “Well, they’re not as poor as the real poor, at least they can sell their home and then have some money for a while.” In other words, the killing of the American dream of owning a home/property.

    Again – property tax elimination takes a locally-forced tax on some away, and widens the application of a choice tax on all. Too simple to get across to some people. I think you understand it, you’re just not buying it.

    The House Finanace Committee will conduct a hearing on HB1776, the Property Tax Independence Act on Monday, May 21, 2012. You can watch it live at 10 AM on Representative Jim Cox’s website. I won’t be able to – I’ll be at work.

  • By JornJensen, May 20, 2012 @ 8:19 AM

    lucky1 – No tax, including sales tax, is an ideal revenue source. There’s problems and unfairness with all taxes. Increased sales tax would be unfair to the truly poor. Property taxes are unfair to the poor with property when the poor without property are not paying any of that same tax. Understand? It would be unfair to have them help to pay for education in Pennsylvania – correct? If ASDpayer is correct at 70% owning their domicile in Armstrong County (and I believe that is probably an accurate number), then, under the ‘property taxes paying for education’ system, 30% are not paying anything toward education. By elimination of property taxes and increasing sales taxes to replace them, and therefore having ‘all of us’ pay, isn’t that more fair? Like what the communists and socilaist left wants – more fairness? Even the poor without property help to pay for education. Seems fair to me.

    You mention contribution rate- is that us taxpayers paying, or the state paying with our tax money? It all comes back to you and me paying taxes. Are you saying that we should pay more?

    And then comes the attack on Tom Corbett – because he wants people to be fiscally responsible. Give it a rest lucky1. We could have had Dan Onarato, democrat, fellow Penn Stater – the guy that brought on the drink tax in Allegheny County, on top of their 7% sales tax. Yeah, that would have been a real good idea to have a tax-and-spend democrat follow tax-and-spend Ed Rendell. Remember Ed Rendell? The guy that couldn’t complete the budget 7 out of 8 times, on time? So, at least 3 of those times was in his first term – and he was re-elected??
    His very voters, the public services unions were the ones that he held up their paychecks. That’s leadership!
    Pennsylvania voters finally woke up, much the same as we did in the ASD.

    For you also, the House Finance Committee will conduct a hearing on HB1776, the Property Tax Independence Act on Monday, May 21, 2012. You can watch it live at 10 AM on Representative Jim Cox’s website. Right-winger me won’t be able to – I’ll be at work.

    Again – property tax elimination takes a locally-forced tax on some away, and widens the application of a choice tax on all. Because the topic of taxation is so complex, as you believe, then we should do nothing? Take a simple approach and analyze it.

  • By rfullerton, May 20, 2012 @ 1:59 PM

    In reading and rereading all the info given on sales tax vs. property tax I still cannot decide which is the lesser of two evils i truly can see pros and cons to both. I think I really need to do more thorough research on these issues and take a comprehensive look at what goes on in other states that do not have their school system supported by property taxes. What are these systems like? Better than ours or much worse? I do feel for the retired persons of the county. Many are struggling to pay property taxes as are some of the newly employed young folks. Although I do not agree with all of his policies I do think Corbett is trying to make people, institutions etc more fiscally responsible that hopefully in the long run will benefit all. With that being said, exactly what was wrong with the drink tax? It raised a ton of revenue, was instilled on something people were not forced to buy and had practically zero effect on dissuading people not to drink.

  • By GetSmart, May 20, 2012 @ 6:08 PM

    @ Jorn

    For the sake of fairness in this debate, just beacuase an Armstrong County Resident doesn’t own his/her domicile doesn’t mean they don’t contribute to property taxes. Aren’t the property owners/landlords of much of the other 30% you reference passing the property tax burden on to the renters, tennants, lease holders, etc.

  • By lucky1, May 20, 2012 @ 7:15 PM

    Jorn, for someone who claims to work so hard, you certainly spend an exorbitant amount of time posting on this site. I knew if I posted something on here, you would undoubtedly respond in less than a day. It actually took you less than 12 hours to reply. So, you are for an increased sales tax but against an increased sales tax (on alcohol)? You are for and against the same thing? Eliminating a property tax and substituting a sales tax would only solve some problems, but undoubtedly would create other issues, perhaps on a much larger scale. Tom Corbett has demonstrated he cares more about the profits of out of state gas companies than the education of this state. His total bungling of the Sandusky case should be an example of how incompetent and corrupt he is as a public official. Jorn, I am predicting you reply to this post in less than 18 hours As with other addicts, you simply cannot stop.

  • By worthingtonman, May 20, 2012 @ 7:43 PM

    @Jorn
    Most property owners pay property taxes. I own property in the worthing area and pay property taxes. I own property in the Kittanning area and although my tenant does not pay property taxes, I pay the property taxes with his rent monies. everybody knew when the bought their houses and their properties the property tax came along with it. If you don’t want to pay high property taxes, don’t buy so much property.

  • By JornJensen, May 20, 2012 @ 9:59 PM

    rfullerton – Reasonable approach to the situation. I believe that the PA poperty tax elimination act is based on North Dakota’s plan. I haven’t studied it (yet).

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the drink tax. It is a choice tax – that which I believe is fair to all. The only problem with the drink tax is that it is ANOTHER tax – something to be collected and used for something really important to support big government. Ed Rendell is probably mad at himself for not thinking of it first.

    Someone else on this thread mentioned gambling or lottery ‘fees’ or taxes – that’s fine – that’s a choice tax. But, the revenue stream in tough times might be slow on that one, but on sales tax, most likely fairly steady most times as we all have to buy stuff to live.

  • By worthingtonman, May 20, 2012 @ 9:59 PM

    @jorn

    I think if anyone deserves or needs a break from property it is the senior citizens. surely something can be done to help them keep their homes. As for the rest of us, it is difficult to put a price on public education. My children have benefitted from the public schools here in the ASD as did I, My father, my fathers father and maybe evn more. If you think the government is going to do anything like a sales tax that hits the poor, you are crazy. Whether you believ it or not, the poor are paying their share, unless they are living in government housing, which is a very smaller percentage. because as I have said earlier, those paying rent, are doing their part through their landlord. Now I think that any reform should start with the senior citizens, and should be done through means testing. they are the ones hurting the most. Most everybody else can pay their share. If you are working and own a home, then you should be prepared to pay property taxes. That comes with home ownership. If you can not afford it, then get something with in your means. If you have a 100 acres and can’t afford your taxes, sell those acres and live with in your means. I am a conservative, but do not come down on the side of the conservatives pushing for the type of reform Jorn calls for. we have a lot more to worry about then just our wallets. It’s funny the people you hear complain the most about property taxes live in big beautiful homes and enjoy the benefits of a large land holding. It is these same people who would take advantage of the sales tax if there law passes. They will take advantage of Internet purchases and cross state line purchases, especially if they work in another state. It is like the owner of the company I work for. he drives a company truck, uses the company credit card to fuel it up, uses the company purchase order system to pay for the repair of the truck when he crashes it, (quite frequently) uses the company maintenance man to make repairs at his house, his parents house, and his friend who owns a farm. He doesn’t even pay to have his garbage hauled away, he brings it to work in the company truck and has one of the hourly guys put it in the company dumpster. draws a large pay check and then complains when the company doesn’t do as well as it could. He could give a rats patio tie about politics until Obama got elected and threatened to take his money. Now he is a big time conservative, a racist, a chauvinistic butt head who is making true conservatives like myself look bad. I get tired of hearing about the property taxes crap. if your taxes are too high move into something with in your means. it is that simple. Done ranting now.

  • By ASDpayer, May 20, 2012 @ 11:43 PM

    @Jorn

    Well I have been researching the sales tax substitution some more. The figures Jim Cox puts forth are a guess. There has been no accountancy vetting or tax analysis that I can find. The bill has just been introduced and needs to go through committee to see if it is indeed what you and Cox claim.

    I was and am opposed to gambling. We were promised big reductions in property taxes from the “free money” that was going to come from taxing gambling. It didn’t happen. O we got a little relief, but there was not the billions that were promised.

    The best figures I can find from the census of 2010 are that about 35 percent of county residents are over 65. Pretty high. Not all are retired. It puts us right up there with Florida and Arizona. That said, the housing stock in the county averages less than 65k per actual value, not assessed. Property taxes are high, but the median tax and one standard deviation less is less than 1000 dollars. You can eliminate that, but the sales tax will eat that up quickly. Remember these retirees will probably all be paying that tax on coffins and burial sites. (A joke if you please)

    This bill needs a lot more work and research, and from Cox’s website, it doesn’t look like he has done it. Also, the guy seems like a real right wing ideologue. Graduate of highly conservative Christian college in Florida and Pat Robertson’s law school. I need a little more mainstream research to respect it.

  • By JornJensen, May 21, 2012 @ 6:02 AM

    ASDpayer – Thanks for your reasonable approach and discussion. I am also opposed to gambling – it is a choice that I choose to not make. Part of the problem with these wonderful programs, like the gambling paying for seniors or whatever it does, is that it creates more government jobs, and those folks need pay and benefits, courtesy of us taxpayers and the gambling income.
    No doubt the Property Tax Independence Act has a long row to hoe, but we have to start somewhere.

    worthingtonman – I’ve come across people like you describe – and they breed more of the same. I think it goes along with the modern definition of entitlement.

    lucky1 – Now I’m an addict because I really annoy you. Again, typical liberal attack. I’m okay with increased sales tax on alcohol – I stated that in a post above. It is a choice tax. It is my choice to pay it or not. It’s just another tax to fund big government- more and more. I’m okay with the gambling money income – again, a choice. I choose not to gamble except maybe on insurance, which is a commonly-accepted form of gambling.
    It is now 6 AM – how’d I do on your timing me?

  • By mutchka, May 21, 2012 @ 3:56 PM

    I dont know whether anyone remembers or not but we had a bunch of clowns running aroung here probably 15 years ago getting petitions protesting even marching to Harrisburg about eliminating property tax.Now we have a new cast of characters pontificating about property tax. Guess what the only way you can keep taxes down is quit spending not by building Taj mahals. You better worry about the school board spending you in to bankruptcy and the state taking over this district because wait till you see your taxes after they do their thing.

  • By cartman, May 21, 2012 @ 10:26 PM

    @ASDpayer
    What is wrong with going to a conservative college? I am a proud graduate of such a school. I do not always agree with Jorn, but he is at least trying to come up with something, rather than just following the leftist line. What public employee union do you belong to?

  • By ASDpayer, May 21, 2012 @ 11:05 PM

    @Jorn

    Well I watched about two hours of the hearings on HB 1776. I don’t think it is going very far. Seven people from groups that would be taxed spoke against the bill. Rep. Cox seemed uninformed on many issues. One legislator, said they have been working on this for 30 years and we are at the same place. A short discussion of how much money would be raised was highly inconclusive. I am trying to be reasonable and civil in comments, as I think such a forum is good for our democracy. I try to avoid name calling or labeling.

    @ Cartman, I am not a member of any union and have never joined a union. The trouble I have with a conservative college is they teach ideology. Faculty are chosen not so much for academic skills but Christian affiliation. At Pensacola Christian they have two courses on why evolution is a fallacy and not a theory. Someone once said, “Small Christian colleges usually produce small Christians.”

  • By Kittanning Lady, May 22, 2012 @ 5:16 AM

    @ mutchka,I agree with you. The school board will have to raise our taxes to fund the building of the new high school. I was told that the Kittanning and Ford City sewage plants will not be able to accommodate the new school or any new developments that the tax payers will have to fund as per stipulation for this “Free Land”. Therefore ,I was told that the School District will have to expand the already in place sewage treatment facilities OR develop their own to accommodate the new school and/or any new developments that are expected.I was then told our School Taxes WILL BE RAISED TO HELP PAY for this. Have you Jorn dear heard anything? I am only relaying what is being talked about.I again tell you all, some of the things of which I hear about DO HAPPEN…ANYONE??? I am concerned for myself and all senior citizens who have retired and are afraid of these higher taxes.

  • By Kittanning Lady, May 22, 2012 @ 6:09 AM

    @Jerri,some information about the “Outlaws motorcycle Club” They have NOT morphed into something else as someone on here stated…The Outlaw motorcycle club is one of the MORE notorious and oldest clubs on the TOP TEN list of “TOP 10 Notorious American Motorcycle Gangs.” They are number 4 .Using the insignia on Marlon Brando’s leather jacket in the “Wild One” as inspiration the club adopted the skull and crossed pistols as their official club patch. The club started over 70 years ago their chapters..(One of which is located by the new school sight) have spread widely across the United States and in Australia,Asia,Europe,and Northern and South America.The world leader of the Outlaws ,Harry Bowman was sent to prison for 3 murders in 1999 after being on the F.B.I.’s TOP 10 Most Wanted List. The Outlaws have been suspected ,arrested,tried and convicted of countless crimes from prostitution,trafficking narcotics,stolen goods,arms dealing,extortion,and murder.They are still being investigated by the FEDS to this day. You are right they do own 50 acres next to the new school sight. I wonder what would happen if the Armstrong School District decides to claim “Eminent Domain? Just passing on some information. Check a web sight if you do not believe me.

  • By jerry6, May 22, 2012 @ 6:19 AM

    Jorn: Why do you always have to put something in your posts about someone’s opinion being about them being a liberal. You remind me of Fred Honsberger from KDKA saying that if you are are democract, you are not Christian. You cannot lump everyone in the same category based on there political beliefs. I have voted for both partys. I base it on what they will do for the country not if they are democrat or republican. I think they should do away with these party names and just have a person running for office. I know of some old people who go to the voting booth and put the X in republican or democrat without voting for the person.

  • By worthingtonman, May 22, 2012 @ 7:58 AM

    If you watch any of the documentaries on television concerning the motor cycle clubs, you will find that much of the violent acts any of them do are against other clubs. When was the last time we have read or seen anything about the club causing any problems what so ever in our area? It is just a scare tactic being drummed up to cause controversy at the new school site. Most of the problems with our society now are caused by young drug addicts. And they are not getting them from the motorcycle club. I know for a fact that the heroin used in our areas is brought up from Pittsburgh. I actually think building the school in a rural area is best. It keeps all the drug addicts without cars in town and away from the students. One question for the kittanninglady is this…Why are you all of a sudden declaring taxes needing to be raised over the building of the new school. The current board is going to use the already borrowed money to build a new school and will close down more schools than the previous board was going to. I did not hear you on here complaining about tax hikes when the renovation plans were in place. They were spending the same amount of money, except more. Remember they already spent close to ten million and the only thing to show is asbestos removal that did not need to happern.

  • By Kittanning Lady, May 22, 2012 @ 9:21 AM

    @ worthingtonman,I know YOU are CLOSE and PERSONAL friends of the SECRET 8. I know anyone on here who posts anything that is against or who would like more information about the school board and their actions, YOU will ATTACK. Like I said if you will do your own reseach you will LEARN more.Mr.Larry Robb said with his own mouth “WE WILL HAVE TO RAISE TAXES TO PAY FOR THIS NEW SCHOOL!”or did you forget that there is no longer 80 million to work with? I want to see the costs!!! HOW HARD IS THAT TO COME UP WITH?The old board had everything out in the open… costs and how they were going to pay for the renovations, they even lowered our taxes and… were in the process to lower them again! WERE IS OUR INFORMATION ON THE COSTS ASD??????? I also forgot to mention ,I know a man who went hunting on the property where the new school will be built. He and some buddies were walking around and heard a voice “WE SEE YOU” “BACK OFF” They were warned they were on the OUTLAWS property. When they looked up the area had many cameras mounted on the trees and a pa speaker placed on certain trees. They left and never hunted around that area again.

  • By cartman, May 22, 2012 @ 9:44 AM

    I agree with worthingtonman about the Outlaws. Their being there is undesirable, but not dangerous. This truly is just an attempt to block the new school. I sympathies with Kittanning Lady in her concern about property taxes. It seems, though, as if the old tactic of trying to scare seniors might be in play here. Who could be behind these rumors? Three guesses. Also, someone on here posted that they are opposed to gambling. So am I, but we have it, and it is not going away. Given the huge amounts it generates, including the lottery, why not divert some of that money to education? Everyone, regardless of age, could have their property taxes lowered. I am a senior, but I know that younger people don’t want to lose their homes either.

    ASDpayer, Do you really believe that ideology is not taught at public colleges? Come on!

  • By nonamerequired, May 22, 2012 @ 2:29 PM

    Worthingtonman, and everyone else: Do you believe this school will be built within budget and with only the money remaining from the bond? A serious question, and a real question. There is no malicious intent in me asking.

  • By worthingtonman, May 22, 2012 @ 3:53 PM

    @kittanninglady. I am friends with one board member, and I have not discussed the moves they are making because I agree with their steps. Their are also ALOT of land owners with posted land that will chase you off. ALOT. People are very protective of their property. also surely you do not think that token tax cut the old board gave us meant anything. They are the clowns that borrowed 80 million dollars against the will of the people. damage they have done will take years to rectify. They knew of the large sum of money that will be needed to pay for the teachers pension fund. They simply wanted to go out saying they lowered taxes. Not very many people were fooled about that.

    @nonamerequired. I believe the group of people on this board have a great deal of knowledge and integrity. I believe that once they have the answers to people’s questions they will relay them. It is way to early to have projected staffing cuts and such. I believe they will work as hard as they can to serve the taxpayers best interests. It is still just the planning stages. Rushed information is often the wrong information. let them do their jobs. The information will flow. I trust them. That is all I can say about that.

  • By DrDeer, May 22, 2012 @ 4:44 PM

    @ Kittanning Lady, Post 5/22/12 9:21am
    Are you sure you were not watching Field of Dreams. Also, Can anyone even name one Outlaw or last seen an Outlaw. I would assume our local group is getting up in age as we all are and maybe are now called the In-Laws.

  • By ASDpayer, May 22, 2012 @ 5:10 PM

    New School costs.

    Well we don’t know is the answer. It will take time and bidding and such. Our advisors will need time to put it together. This of course will not satisfy the Kittanninglady and noname… It will take a few months. I am glad that Kittanninglady told us about Paul Lobby telling out of his own mouth that taxes will be raised. That is so much better than telling us out of some other person’ s mouth. But in a conversation I had with Dr. Lobby, is that we will see savings in closing schools, and in other efficiencies. We have already borrowed the money and for goodness sakes get a grip and understand that the money cannot be given back.

    @cartman—well evolution is an accepted scientific theory. Also the germ theory of disease is an accepted theory, but at some conservative colleges evolution is debunked, and it is taught people get sick because they are evil. And actually I don’t believe that ideology is taught at public colleges except in the eyes of right wingers who see economic theory, or the history of the United States is all dogma.

  • By Tankster, May 22, 2012 @ 5:41 PM

    I agree with alot of the posts on this board.

    I agree, Jorn, the term “liberal” as a ways and means to debate a topic is old and stale. That really has outlived it’s usage for me. I do not consider myself as a liberal or conservative, because those terms have become so grossly misused and abused in the past couple of decades. For me, it does not work anymore. Yeah, they want to make it that the people who support the GOP are the only ones who can love Jesus. I am liberal on some issues and very conservative on other issues. I really despise the one-swipe with the paintbrush and using labels trying to get a point across. Sounds like a drug-induced Limbaugh.

    As for the new school questions, I agree totally. What is getting cut? How much is getting cut as far as dollars? How many positions are going to be cut? When will hear this? Before or after they begin building the school?

    Yeah, worthingtonman and jan seem to have all the connections. Aren’t they worried about things not getting cut and money being saved? Why haven’t they asked the tough questions to their board members that they speak with all of the time. They were privy to the platform that these people ran on, but they have no answers now when this board has clammed up. Great school, great location, but now I want to hear about some great savings and some great cuts in teaching positions.

  • By longtimereader, May 22, 2012 @ 5:53 PM

    Anyone else hear about the ASD dropping the Drivers Ed program? I guess a course that helps kids prepare for skills that they will use every day is not important. What’s next?

  • By scott_starr, May 22, 2012 @ 6:59 PM

    As Taxpayers anyone is within their rights to ask for the costs of building, site preparation etc. for this new school.
    A valid question, and it should be answered.

    There is a flaw in the thinking that renovating 3 high schools and keeping them open will reduce taxes… it won’t.

    Personally, I don’t think a 7 -12 School was the way to go.

  • By scott_starr, May 22, 2012 @ 7:01 PM

    @noname:

    I think the new school coming in on budget has as much as, if not slightly better than renovations of 3 High Schools.

  • By GetSmart, May 22, 2012 @ 8:08 PM

    @ kittanninglady

    Ther only reason to cut taxes when expenses exceed income is for political posturing.

  • By JornJensen, May 22, 2012 @ 8:59 PM

    jerry6 – I’ll graciously accept your criticism of me if you will post the same criticism of those who call me right-winger, conservative and an addict. No problem. Let’s do this fair and square.
    I full-well realize that many democrats and republicans vote for the other party – I do. I vote the issues. I’d be the first to ask for removal of the ‘straight party X’ to avoid having to go down through the election choices – the straight party single vote is the lazy person’s vote – but, at least they put forth the effort to go vote.
    Regardless of democrat or republican, people around the world are still liberal, conservative or a mix in-between. Capitalism stuggles in the USA but has overall worked well, socialism has failed all over Europe and Communism has failed in the Soviet Union, or USSR, or whatever it is currently called.

    kittanninglady – Sorry, I have heard nothing about sewage capacity for this new location. I have no concern about the Outlaws or the Inlaws. As I have stated previously, I am finished with school boards – the school board that you still support bungled things the worst by getting an $80 million loan for a losing-enrollment area with too many teachers and a growing fixed-income retiree population. The new board has chosen a route and marched ahead on the decision of 9 people. I have turned my efforts to working for the trimming the power of Pennsylvania school boards to do the things that they do to us taxpayers. Pennsylvania school boards have historically done the ‘turtle’ when it comes to contract negotiations. I want referendum voting on major issues and expenditures, much the same as the state of Ohio has. I fully support school property tax elimination. I do not believe that the nine people we have on school board are qualified to make the decisions that they are making. We hear nothing from them – nothing on cuts of any kind to pay down the loan/the new building or anything else. We’re told by one poster to give them time to do their job. After all, how can we have any idea of costs if we don’t have specifications and quotes yet? Without that, how can we possibly know what to cut – what buildings to close and so on? Fact is, very close estimates can be calculated by knowledgeable people and then a real financial plan can be put together and communicated.

  • By lucky1, May 22, 2012 @ 9:30 PM

    @ASDtaxpayer, I stated before that a sales tax would not be a good primary source because of its unreliability and the hearings seem to confirm that fact. Under a sales tax system, many who own property might actually see a rise in taxes if the taxation is expanded to items not currently taxed.
    Normally, I do not descend into name calling, but Jorn’s constant, unnecessary, and unproductive injection of Rush Limbaugh-style right wing conservative bloviation deserves a rebuttal. Tom Corbett is having a detrimental impact on the education of the state and Jorn ignores that fact simply because the governor is a Republican.

  • By worthingtonman, May 22, 2012 @ 9:31 PM

    @tankster

    I am far from connected. I am friends with one board member and have honestly not spoken to him about the schools for months. went to school with two other board members and have doctored with one. I just think that is just common sense that the answers people are looking for just are not there yet. this project is just starting. there is a lot of hard work to be done to get the figures people want. some things you can just assume there will be savings. It is a lot cheaper to run and maintain a modern school then it is to run 3 old antiquated schools. some staff cuts can also be assumed. Principals/ Secretaries/ cafeteria staff/ janitors/ maintenance/ gym teachers/ coaching staff/ nurses / guidance Counsellors/ My point is time is needed before people can get the answers they want. I am willing to wait for the answer.

  • By Kittanning Lady, May 22, 2012 @ 10:16 PM

    @ ASDpayer What??? I never said Dr.Lobby said that they would have to raise taxes to pay for the new school. I said Mr. Larry Robb. I see you have talked to Dr. Lobby why not ask him why the costs are not given to the public?The costs should be available to the taxpayers now, not until they figure them out, that should have been already decided .That’s “putting the cart before the horse.” The cuts in staff was given in executive session and is being investigated as a direct violation against the “sunshine law”(as reported in a paper near Armstrong County) Why? This should be public information. These 8 board members are not stupid they know just how to play us. I can’t wait to see the real costs of this school,can you say “We need to borrow more money to finish the school?” The money was NEVER offered to other school districts. Dr. Solak went to ARIN and asked them about advertising it in different outlets .Administration was to follow up on this and advertise this offer immediately. NOTHING was done.( and don’t give me the story of the IRS.)@wothingtonman, would have been nice if the land was posted which it was not.The Outlaw members are in Armstrong County do you know any members? I bet you do and don’t even know it. Do I see members? and, do I know who they are? Yes, I do I see them out and about almost every time I am shopping or in town.Yes, there are older members and Yes, there are many younger ones too.How do I know? Lived here all my life and again “people talk.”I talk to many people I just don’t talk to a select few in Armstrong County.@nonamerequired,Will this new school be built within budget with only the money remaining from the bond? answer.. no, they will have to beg or borrow.I am not against a new school which according to some on here was a myth,I am against the back door politics and silence of these board members and the location I am not too happy with.

  • By Kittanning Lady, May 23, 2012 @ 5:34 AM

    @JornJensen,I agree with you on a referendum voting on major issues and expenditures.I will look up the Ohio school district and read how things are done in that state.School property tax elimination,many of us are for that also.I also agree that school board members are not qualified to make the decisions they are making.I have been to some school board meetings and some of the board members look like a deer in headlights when complicated issues come up like staff cuts psers ,hiring ,and budget meetings.I am not saying these people are not well educated, they are well educated in their professions.These people are not educated on how to run a school district. The administration is comprised of different departments well educated in the job they do every day.It takes a staff of different people who run a school district. This reminds me of the comercial on TV, you would not let your doctor play your violin in an orchestra,just as your doctor would not let you see his or her patients. Each person is educated in the profession that they chose,to say these board members can preform the duties in all the school district’s departments is a joke. I also understand the frustration of people going to the polls and pressing the straight Democrat or Republican button.I research each candidate,listen to the debates and also, my church, and I have heard many churches do have web sights that we can see what each candidate has done and their platform. I always take a paper with me on correct spelling of the candidates names and I never vote straight party.

  • By JornJensen, May 23, 2012 @ 6:41 AM

    lucky1 – Good thing you have me to attack – there you go again. Bashing myself, bashing Corbett. I could care less if Corbett is republican or democrat – he’s pushing fiscal responsibility and I agree with that. The last guy was fiscally irresponsible – the records show it – 7 out of 8 budgets late – it is history. It’s in the books.

    You spew your leftist hatred when you can’t debate with facts, data and common sense – “Normally, I don’t descend to name calling, but Jorn’s constant, unnecessary, and unproductive injection of Rush Limbaugh-style right wing conservative bloviation deserves a rebuttal.” Nice, very nice. Sorry, I don’t watch or follow Rush Limbaugh. Do you?

    You state that the hearings seem to confirm that fact. To be more accurate in your presentation, you should have stated that the hearings seem to confirm that belief (your belief). But, of course, you make your belief into fact to try to sway some readers. Very nice.

    So, you must have taken the time to listen to the Property Tax Independence Act hearings on Monday, as did ASDpayer. Can you give us an accurate, un-biased rundown of the proceedings?

    Why don’t you offer to go to the WYTM station on South Jefferson Street and be on the Talk of the Town program and present your views? You’d be very impressed with that group of people – they work hard and at a brisk pace, for sure.

  • By jerry6, May 23, 2012 @ 7:41 AM

    Kittanning Lady: You said your church and other churches have web sites talking about the candidates running for office. It is my understanding that churches could loose there tax exempt status if they are involved in politics.

  • By cartman, May 23, 2012 @ 8:08 AM

    ASDpayer,
    For someone who does not like labeling, you seem very willing to refer to conservative Christians as right wingers. In my four years at a Christian college, I never met even one person who did not believe that germs cause disease. I also met many who believed in evolution. Personally, I believe in theistic evolution. It is unfortunate that you have these prejudices, as I agree with you on a number of points.

  • By bob, May 23, 2012 @ 8:23 AM

    @ DrDeer:
    KittLady is correct when she says there are Outlaw members around & that you may even know one. I do see one member every so often. He doesn’t live too far from me…nice guy. I lived next to another one as a child, also a nice guy. Not trying to paint them as saints, just normal people.

    @ KittanningLady:
    Enough already with the Outlaws having property near the proposed building site. Seriously, when is the last time you’ve heard of them stirring up trouble with the general population…30 years ago? Furthermore, they have every right to not want people hunting on their property. Many people have their property posted to prevent trespassing. And before you tell us again that it wasn’t posted, i’d like to point out that the cameras everywhere & someone saying “back off” over a speaker would probably be considered more of a trespassing deterrent than a sign…Don’t you agree?
    The sewage question is a legitamate concern. I would think that would add a considerable amount to the cost of the project.

  • By worthingtonman, May 23, 2012 @ 8:31 AM

    @kittanninglady

    I personally do not know any of the outlaws. But i did have two pass me on 422. So i know they are alive and well.And if I did I would feel comfortable around them. And of course the land would not be posted. Do you really expect people to believe that. There are not many land owners that would not post their land. It fits into your newest scare tactic. It is funny how you slam this board and declare they are not suited to run the district. I didn’t hear you say anything like that about the old school board majority. I am here to tell you I spent some time around a campfire with one of the old majority, and he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. It is a pretty common fact that the board works close with the Superintendent who uses his staff to prevent them with facts and they then make decisions. So all the people you are talking about are indeed working behind the scenes. If i remember correctly, one of your friends who talk siad that Kittanning and Ford City will not be having their own football teams this year. Apparently your friends were dead wrong on this issue. As far as the board not running the show, I am all for that. Hire a business manager or a CEO and what he says goes. If that had happened years ago the kids would be in the school right now. And your comment above about wanting the numbers before they are figured out is hilarious. I am sure you will get the real numbers as soon as they are figured out. Unless one of your friends who talk can let us know what the brother-in law of your counsins aunt said. because you know… people talk

  • By JornJensen, May 23, 2012 @ 8:34 AM

    cartman – Thank you for a balanced view on your post to ASDpayer.

    Kittanning Lady – I figured you’d get a reaction bringing church into political discussions.

    I do agree with you on the other thread about Apollo Ridge – that should be administrators involved in the meetings and secession discussions with Apollo Ridge. I thank and appreciate Joe Close’s time and efforts on that, but he should have had administrators ‘in tow’ on that task.

    I guess I should have clarified my statement on ‘qualifications’ – I think you explained it quite well. My critics will say, “So, Dr. Lobby is not qualified?” Sure, I don’t doubt for a second that Dr. Lobby is qualified in his profession as a medical doctor. And others are qualified in their professions. I’m certainly not qualified to string wire from pole to pole. But, public office? Just run and people will vote – no need for a resume’ specific to the task at hand.

  • By bob, May 23, 2012 @ 8:53 AM

    @jerry6:
    That’s a good question about the churches presenting political info on their web sites. I would think that as long as the web site doesn’t endorse a particular candidate, but only presents a list of the candidates & what platform they are running on it shouldn’t be a problem. That would make it easier for church members to have all candidates info in one place instead of having to go to a bunch of different sites to do the research.

  • By Kittanning Lady, May 23, 2012 @ 12:32 PM

    @bob You are correct the churches of which I speak do not endorse a particular candidate.I t provides me with links to the candidates web sites and I do the research on them myself by reading each individuals platform.I don’t care if the school board directors were current or in the past .I only agree with Jorn that we should have a referendum on major costs or anything that will affect the taxpayers or our children’s education.I just heard on the radio that Gov.Corbett has endorsed that the state can come in and take over the school district if in fact they are in dire need of help.I think I will write a letter telling them what is going on in our area. I hope the state does step in,then we will have to direct our complaints to someone else,not clueless elected people who have no idea what they are doing.

  • By asdgrad, May 23, 2012 @ 3:11 PM

    I think all of you are going way off topic..

    I am much more interested in the new school and what the school board is doing right for once, I’m sick and tired of the negativity, and who cares where the out laws club house is.

    I mean really folks if you want to go off topic please at least make it something use full such as how we can turn the education around in this county and school District, give more ideas about how to make the transitions better for all of us.

  • By devitt, May 23, 2012 @ 9:58 PM

    I do not really have a dog in this fight over old schools and new schools but from an outsider’s perspective it looks like there is going to be a huge gap coming in costs and the revenue coming in. Erecting a sewage plant? This is major $$$$. Combining schools and keeping staffing levels the same. This is the same $$$$ we are spending now. The staffing should be cut by at least a quarter with this move of getting rid of three high schools. Any savings dealing with utility bills and such are now gone as a source of savings. You are not saving money with the number of positions if everything stays the same or you hire more. Add in the pensions, the actual cost of the new building, the athletic fields and other things on top of all of this. Where is the savings?

  • By JornJensen, May 24, 2012 @ 10:04 AM

    devitt – Many of us on here asking the same questions. No answers. It appears that we have a stealth school board.

  • By sickofpayingforit, May 24, 2012 @ 6:37 PM

    @ Worthingtonman-

    What is a realistic, reasonable amount of time for this board to “figure out the numbers”????

    Another year, another six months, how long?

    If they were running for this position, surely, hopefully, and almost expectedly they should have already had a plan. No? In order to say that someone elses ideas are terrible, and they all said that about Solak, they need to have a better idea to base that statement off of. Given that line of thinking, I would summise that this board has had PLENTY of time to “figure out the numbers” or they weren’t prepared at all for this job they volunteered for. Also, given that line of thinking, why volunteer for candidacy at all if there aren’t any plans? I said it before, a candidate should already know the situation, the numbers, etc. and have a good idea that is worth someone’s vote. If that wasn’t the case, shame on the voters!

  • By devitt, May 24, 2012 @ 10:39 PM

    Jorn, a silent answer is not an answer. I agree with sickofpayingforit. Can they at the very least give the taxpayers a date on when they will disclose the so-called numbers? I was okay with the Kittanning and Ford City high schools remaining open because I did not want to see a tax hike to build new. Elderton should have been closed. I started talking with friends and others and they convinced me maybe a new school would be a way to save money. I think it would if done properly. The thought of a new school being located in West Hills turned my stomach in knots but this board proved me wrong and picked a good location. Now, it seems we are at a standstill. I think the hold up is that nobody on the board has the courage to swing the axe. Okay, we got a vision for a new school. We got the location selected. It is time to start chopping away. This means cutting friends, friends-of-friends and family members out of jobs. They know there is no way that they can justify not cutting plenty of teachers. This is where we are at. Who is going to start the chopping and who is going to support it? They could be trying to cook up a plan to save some or all of the teaching jobs but they know the public is watching. You can’t run on stopping the madness and then continuing the madness. Buyer beware?

  • By wakeup, May 24, 2012 @ 11:01 PM

    What “numbers” is everyone so impatiently waiting for? Did you not get “numbers” from the architects thAt many of you know better and dispute?
    So please correct me if I am wrong but the next step would be bidding this out to get more specific numbers which first involved deciding on the location? I guess I just do not understand what “numbers” you all want to hear?
    If You want estimates…you already got them…you want concrete “costs” there is a process that takes time and is being played out.

  • By wakeup, May 24, 2012 @ 11:16 PM

    Maybe you want to hear how many people are getting fired? Do you really expect any board to say how many people will be layed off until the merger takes place. What purpose would that serve other than appeasing the arm chair quarterback?Again using logic what exactly is it you expect to hear in this public announcement?

  • By devitt, May 25, 2012 @ 6:03 AM

    Yes you are correct, wakeup, and it sounds like you may be a teacher or a relative of a teacher. The public relations campaign seems to have begun. We consolidate and build new to save money but when we eliminate positions we are “firing” people. It does not bother me or my conscience. This new school and the closings of others was promised to save money. You cannot do that without substantial layoffs, terminations, firings, or whatever else you want to call them. Appeasing the arm chair qb? How about appeasing the taxpayer whose money is being used to build a new a school and whose money is being used to pay teachers! Logic? You have not shown any in trying to twist things to keep the taxpayer in the dark. Let’s use transparency!

  • By dalereese67, May 25, 2012 @ 7:53 AM

    I agree with wakeup. Please state exactly what numbers you would like to hear? Most likely an estimate was already mentioned, or to get actual costs they must go through the process of working with the project planners and that takes time.

    Would you rather the board got emotional and made decisions without having all of the information they need?

  • By JornJensen, May 25, 2012 @ 8:31 AM

    wakeup – I’ll stick with devitt and sickofpayingforit on this topic – their positions are well-stated. You stick with worthingtonman on this topic – your two positions are well-stated.

  • By JornJensen, May 25, 2012 @ 9:56 AM

    devitt – I think you hit the nail on the head – “I think that the holdup is that nobody on the board has the courage to swing the axe.” Proving that correct or incorrect will come with the next contract (and with other actions or lack of actions up until then).

    They need some people on that board from the ‘for profit’ sector to swing axes.

  • By Jerri, May 25, 2012 @ 10:43 AM

    Devitt-Why were you ok with closing Elderton? Is it because it doesn’t affect you? I suppose you are one of those people that believed the garbage and imagined that school was falling apart (lie) or that the teachers only had five kids in every classroom (again lie) or that it was the reasons your taxes are so high (laughable lie). Now you praise the school board that it’s ok to build a new school because it will be convenient to your house. Isn’t that why you didn’t want it in West Hills? West Hills is only a few miles from Ford City. But you have no problem with busing Elderton kids over 20 miles across country roads? I’m so sick of the selfishness in this district. There’s no need to close anymore high schools. A simple redo of the attendance lines would balance where some schools are crowded and some aren’t. Using that bond money for warm, safe, and dry to make up for the years of purposeful neglect to justify a new school would make much more sense. There will be no savings in this new school. They are giving you basic square foot costs on this building, neglecting infrastructure into a hillside plot with a goat path to enter, forgetting about the quad a astroturfed stadium, swimming pool (yes that’s all they ever talked about), new tracks, etc. etc. Let’s not even get started on the transportation costs, the loss of almost 2 million yearly if these people continue their foolish talks about South Bend, and the loss to the Elderton (and later West Shamokin) communities with the loss of their schools, the centers of their community. I don’t think I’d hear harping from Elderton people if the school was being built five or ten miles down the road (except for the very legitimate fear of tax increases for an unnecessary school).

    I have heard estimates of 40 positions being furloughed in closing EHS and KT elementary. If that is the case, they are holding this back because when that new school is built, there will be NO savings! People, please, educate yourself on this! Don’t believe ANYTHING in the Leader Times, which puts “free land” in almost every headline. Don’t be fooled by the purposeful silence of this board as the spoon feed you as needed on costs. We knew TOTAL costs of renovations so what’s the deal now?

    And the stipulation by the Sherry family that this be done in two years has everything to do with school board elections. And I see Rosebud just recently applied for permits in that area. Hmmm. Seeing as Cliff Forest (owner of Rosebud) donated $10 grand to get this board elected, I wonder what’s up there?

  • By Jerri, May 25, 2012 @ 10:55 AM

    asdgrad-Did it ever occur to you the negativity was on purpose in order for a certain group to get what they want? Think about it. The Leader Times had articles on the previous school board several times a week. The previous school board advertised they would have a special meeting to change attorneys. The Leader Times ran three, yes, three articles in the days BEFORE the meeting. A crowd of angry people came in (why? That’s just typical school board business.) The ever professional Close put his hand in the air and started yelling “choo choo you’re being railroaded” and within five minutes, the board had a simple vote and the meeting was over. But the Leader Times the next day attacked the board and praised Close! Now, this board in their very first voting meeting, fired the previous board’s attorney and hired the old one back. And there was NOTHING in the paper! Don’t believe me, look back over Leader Times articles, especially when Patrick Shuster was writing (facebook friends with HERC and Choncek) and compare to Indiana Gazette and Kittanning Paper articles.

    To show how the negativity spread, Mr. Rettig, in this paper attacked the previous board in his “two cents” article questioning why they fired the old lawyer and hired an attorney from Pittsburgh. Mr. Rettig should do his homework as the attorney the previous board hired has his office across the parking lot from the one they fired!

    Sorry to go on. But the point is that our county in general is very negative and most of that is due to a certain group that controls the media. Start paying attention to what is really going on and the way things are reported. You will see. And that is the biggest reason why Armstrong County is viewed as a joke in outer areas. How do people find out about a certain area? Usually the local media. I am glad that this paper is here so we don’t have to rely only on the Leader Times.

  • By dalereese67, May 25, 2012 @ 4:46 PM

    Jerri,

    Elderton needed to be closed. The nail’s been pounded into that coffin, let it go.

    Armstrong County is considered a joke elsewhere because of no jobs, drugs, high taxes, and all of this endless fighting. None of these can be blamed on local media.

  • By nonamerequired, May 25, 2012 @ 9:14 PM

    Dalereese67- “Would you rather the board got emotional and made decisions without having all of the information they need?”

    What other decisions can they possibly make, in this short time?

    And yes, media controls most of our decision making thoughts, whether we think we are smarter than that or not. Those who speak the loudest are heard the most, and they aren’t always correct or honest, and they can have agendas. That goes for people and newspapers. Jerri is right. Educate yourself and see who controls the places we gather information from. It’s very telling.

  • By wakeup, May 25, 2012 @ 10:43 PM

    Devitt- you missed my point…I realize staff will be cut as part of consolidation the biggest being fchs and KHs and this is one of the main reasons for the mergers.. Under the new school that would not happen for two to three years. Do you expect the board to announce those cuts to you now? Why would they do that and what purpose would it servE.

    Until this project is bid to contractors you will not have numbers. Until you are ready to merge schools you will not know what positions need cut. Until this entire project is complete you will not know what if any savings were realized. Until then it is just projections and estimates.

    Now if the board signed a contract to build the school and did not tell the public the cost…that’s a problem. If they merge the schools and do not cut a job…that’s a problem. Until then It is planning that requires patience while we give the board the opportunity to do the job they were elected to do.

  • By sickofpayingforit, May 25, 2012 @ 11:56 PM

    @ wakeup and those who ask “what numbers do we need to see”…

    The numebers I want to make sure the people making the decisions actually know are:

    What is the total cost of this project

    What are the hidden costs and potential increases to the overall costs. Are these covered or will they take more of my money (my money is tax dollars, by the way)

    What is the cost to run this district right now?

    What will the cost be to run this district after spending millions and millions of dollars to build new stuff?

    Is it cheaper to run it the way it is or cheaper to build new?

    How much cheaper?

    What are the projected tax revenues going to be when lined up with the chart that shows the projected population of this district in 5, 10, and 20 years? This is an important statistic, very important statistic to be clear.

    What are the projected tax rates going to be in 5, 10 and 20 years, after overlaying the projected costs of the new and improved district under your current plans? This is sort of important as retiring people or people near retirement may wish to know how much it is going to cost them to pay ASD to keep the house they already paid the original owner for. You know?

    I am not going to rail against the teachers here. They are people with families, bills, etc. However I am paying for this ASD corporation and they have too many employees that I have to support. With that said, how many employees can we expect to RIF by consolidating the schools? This is the largest portion of the budget and as such, should be the top priority for any decision maker, or the decision maker isn’t doing his job.

    Those are a few examples of the numbers that should be made public. Those are the numbers that should already be known to this board and those are the numbers that should be driving any decisions. I asked Mrs. Walker what her specific qualifications were to handle these type of decisions on another article and got no answer. I asked what business experience this board had and these questions were exactly why I asked that. Some said that the board doesn’t make financial decisions and the business manager does all that….Doesn’t sound like that to me….. Well, can you or any of the board members answer any of these questions? They are sort of important, dontcha think?

  • By dalereese67, May 26, 2012 @ 2:08 AM

    Noname,

    You tell me what other decisions can be made. I was only proving a point about more information being necessary and the time it could take to get that information. This was in response to people asking for “the numbers” this very moment. Please read slowly and think things through before you post.

    As for the Leader Times having some sort of jedi mind control over AC, I sincerely hope everyone is more intelligent than that. All of those pharmacy robberies, dui’s, thefts, and job losses must be propaganda huh?

  • By JornJensen, May 26, 2012 @ 7:35 AM

    nonamerequired – Thanks for typing that response to Dalereese67 – saved me the time of typing the same.

  • By Kittanning Lady, May 26, 2012 @ 8:36 AM

    @Jerri you are right and this is NO rumor this is a FACT and anyone on here can go and see for themselves. Chris Choncek is close and personal friends with MIKE O’HARE editor of the LeaderTimes!!! That is why the last board was attacked on the front page headlines and NOW the new board can get away with back door politics and decisions with out the public being told everything. If taxes were raised by the old board it would have been front page news in bold black letters. Chris Choncek would have been seen running into Mike O’Hares office. That is why I cancelled my subscription to the “LEADERTIMES”. I don’t want to live in a place that controls what we read. We are being dictated to by this bias media.Thank GOD and I pray every day that the Kittanning Paper came to be here. I go and get one every day. Thank you, David Dear, God Bless you.

  • By asdgrad, May 26, 2012 @ 9:49 AM

    I just want to say that not only do people from other areas find us here in Armstrong to be a joke because of the reasons stated above about taxes and so, they also do not understand the fact there are so many intercessory high schools in the district and more importantly ones that are very close to each other, you would like we lived in the city, and when I say that I am referring to Ford City and Kittanning, Who are only a “stones throw” away from each other. Who ever had the bright idea to consolidate these schools in the 90′s was smart because that was the best idea, until it was deconsolidated, and shall I say history has away of repeating its self in this district!!!! For example one board says int he 90′s lets consolidate These two schools, then a change of hands on the school board comes along and bam it’s changed back. Then the board gets the same great idea to consolidate again but only different schools well again that did not last long because the change happened again and bam back to the same ol same.

    No people come on lets let go of the past and more a on already.

  • By JornJensen, May 26, 2012 @ 10:19 PM

    sickofpayingforit – I understand what you state in your post of 11:56 PM, May 26,2012. If you’re trying to convince wakeup, then giveup.

  • By devitt, May 27, 2012 @ 12:36 AM

    wakeup said, “I realize staff will be cut as part of consolidation the biggest being fchs and KHs and this is one of the main reasons for the mergers.. Under the new school that would not happen for two to three years.” Are you a board member? I have not heard any board member say that there is going to be a reduction in staffing or staffing costs. And you are not telling the truth or being a realistic if you think that any plan like this would not have estimates or projections of what percentage of staff would be cut. This would be very important data in deciding if consolidating and building new is a viable and beneficial move for the ASD. Until they sign off on the new building and are ready to open the doors they will not know how many positions are projected to be cut? Come on! They better put this whole thing on hold! I hardly ever agree with kittanning lady but if this is how they are planning on making decisions. Yikes! Nobody is asking for exact numbers. But the board could say that yes there will positions cut in relation to this new school and this will project savings and that could mean 3 positions will be cut or 103 positions could be cut. It seems like this is the information that needs to be presented BEFORE we move forward not after we are already indebted to this massive expense!

  • By devitt, May 27, 2012 @ 12:42 AM

    So we could have the board tell us that there will be savings due to staff cuts and everybody will be satisfied if they cut 5 positions? They told you there would be savings so they can say that they did not tell a lie but they never had to state their estimates so you cannot hold them accountable to any number or ballpark figure even as an estimate. I think I am beginning to see how this game is being played and the taxpayers interests are not being protected because this board will not release information until the building has begun. Who would run a business this way?

  • By nonamerequired, May 27, 2012 @ 2:34 AM

    Ok, Dale. You say more information is necessary, and it could take time to gather it. Gotcha. Then why has the board already voted to build a new school, close others, to raise taxes, etc? Shouldn’t those decisions be based on numbers? Noone would buy or build a home without knowing a fairly accurate cost. Noone would buy a gallon of gas without the price listed on the sign. What numbers are gathered AFTER the decision is already voted on to spend millions of (other peoples’) dollars, exactly? Thank you for the advice to read slowly.

  • By dalereese67, May 27, 2012 @ 12:19 PM

    Jorn,

    It looks like you also missed the point in what I was trying to say.

    So, was I wrong about the reasons why Armstrong County is a joke these days? Everyone hits on taxes as the main reason, but without a doubt drugs are huge in the area.

  • By dalereese67, May 28, 2012 @ 10:22 PM

    Noname,

    There were two options (both of which were going to raise your taxes). I think the current board took the better of the two options laid out to them. The previous board borrowed money that could not be returned.
    Normally when someone builds a house, they have a budget. This budget may or may not flex before the project is completed. You will not see accurate numbers through the whole process; it’s impossible.
    I understand you’re p*ssed about your tax money, but what other options were there? Taxes are high in Armstrong County and they were going up regardless what option was chosen (the only difference would be how much they would go up).

  • By wakeup, May 28, 2012 @ 10:34 PM

    Sickofpayinfforit-I thought we were given the estimated numbers for this school from the architects months ago? Now if you disagree with those numbers that’s a whole different subject that we we will not get an answer too until bids are received and ultimately the project is complete.

    The other estimates you want to hear are very important and should be known but keep in mind the are just that…estimates.

    Devitt. So staffing reductions is not a given In consolidation of these schools and you needed to hear exact….estimates…or something like that to feel warm and fuzzy. I have never heard Of a business publically projecting future layoffs years in advance but if that’s what you need to hear than the board should by all means accommodate you?

    Sounds to me like the complaint is not enough studies have been done over the past 3 decades on whether consolidation in this county makes sense or not. maybe we should put this all on hold and pay for some more studies. after all what we have been doing has worked so well Keeping taxes down and quality of education high, why change now…good luck with that!!

  • By JornJensen, May 29, 2012 @ 6:21 AM

    As devitt stated, we need leaders capable of swinging the axe.

    When do the contract negotiations start?

  • By Jerri, May 29, 2012 @ 3:50 PM

    Dalereese67- You are incorrect in that this board has few choices. They had many choices but they knew what they wanted all along. Any reason to justify the new school. The real problem is that you have a group of directors that will create problems in order to justify getting what they want. They were on the board less than two months and began starting to build a new school All that talk of due diligence and fiscal responsibility was no more than political smoke and mirrors. The only people they should be pointing to is themselves.

    wake up-I don’t need estimates to feel ” warm and fuzzy”. I need estimates because that is the “common sense” way to do it ( ooh Dr Lobby, where did I read that phrase before?). This board got elected on silence and that’s the way they want everyone to stay. But surprise, surprise, people are waking up! Perhaps you should too

  • By Jerri, May 29, 2012 @ 4:06 PM

    Asdgrad- When someone asks you why there are so many “intercessory schools” as you stated, what do you tell them? The first thing I say is our school district is 436 square miles. Do you have any idea what an unusual district this is? We are the fourth largest in area but the only one that buses children from all corners of the district, this district has closed dozens of schools and costs never went done. The West Shamokin area has been financially in red ever since that school was built Look at the districts revenue/ expense reports

    The biggest laugh I hear about our district is when I tell people about how the consolidation supporters want one high school!

    Dalereese- just read what you wrote about Elderton. You are wrong. Elderton should never have been closed nor should it be closed now. There is no school close to that area. I’m not going to argue with you about the lies put out there about Elderton. It’s obvious you wouldn’t listen. But rest assured any efforts to close Elderton are not based on better education, student enrollment, or financial reasons. It’s all political and you’ve been played.

  • By sickofpayingforit, May 29, 2012 @ 9:20 PM

    @wakeup-

    Yes any projection is just an estimate. One thing I have been very consistent on is wanting a strong business background to make these decisions. McDonald’s doesn’t put in a new burger joint until they already know how much it will make. That is a fact. It is an estimate, for sure, but they know within a few quarter pounders how much business it will bring in. They have enough related information to make these projections.

    My point is that any decision to spend 60 million dollars should be backed up with enough time and effort spent on the speculation that the decision makers would feel comfortable spending their own money. Now, the real issue here is that they are spending my money, your money and everybody elses who pay’s school taxes. With that, they should be EXPECTED to show concrete projections, with all the little facts on some charts or graphs, plain as day, for all of the people on the hook for that money to see. Pretty much like a real business would do for their shareholders for a monumental decision like spending this obscene amount of money in this area. I spent five minutes posting a couple stats that are vital before making this decision. Five minutes, from the hip. I haven’t seen a shred of anything that would answer most of those questions. The difference between success and failure isn’t much, and the difference could very well be the business experience to know what questions actually need asked, before they start trying to even give answers. I don’t know this board personally or professionally, so I won’t take a direct cheap shot here, but the fact remains, this new school is the only option at this point, and the people paying for it haven’t seen much to know if their investment is sound.

  • By asdgrad, May 30, 2012 @ 12:14 AM

    First the word I meant to use was “unnecessary”, and I tell people that its political, because two of the closes were in fact consolidated and then unconsolidated.

    I believe 100% that there only needs to be one school for Ford City and Kittanning, and for West Shamokin and Elderton, now I have heard that when West Shamokin was built the in tension then to close Elderton, however I will say that I wish that school would have been more Central for those two areas then it is.

  • By JornJensen, May 30, 2012 @ 6:01 AM

    asdgrad – You are probably correct that West Shamokin was not very well thought out by whatever board made that decision. Had it been placed somewhere in that space between route 85 and route 422, in the eastern part of the county, then it would have approached the reality of the future enrollment decline (we have at least a 40 year history of that) in the ASD and handled all of the students in the eastern part of the 436 square miles. That points to a problem with local school boards making the ‘big decisions’ based on local politics rather than data, demographics, facts, etc. Had it been done that way, the two high schools concept could have worked well into the future along with downsizing, consolidation and cost-cutting, and along with improving education.

    sickofayingforit – Same thing I ask for – strong business people from ‘for-profit’ companies leading the way in the school district. Qualified people.

    Jerri – Quite impressed with your depth of knowledge on this topic. You are presenting some very telling information. I’m seeing a lot of the same that you are reporting.

  • By billbell, May 30, 2012 @ 6:48 AM

    Did we forget that the money the old board irresponsibly borrowed has to be used in a certain time frame? The district is already paying interest on asbestos removal. What is the better option, renovate everything and certainly cut far less positions or close more schools, cut more positions and save in the long run?

  • By bob, May 30, 2012 @ 8:15 AM

    @ billbell-
    Not trying to nitpick, but many people keep referring to the old boards “renovation” plans.
    I could be wrong, but renovating implies fixing up an existing structure. Let’s not forget the plans included additions on to these buildings to accomodate our student population that has been declining for decades(more space for less students??). Had they just made needed repairs without the $80M price tag for a loan that must be used for new construction (the additions to existing schools count as new construction) then we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now… yes, irresponsibly borrowed is a good way to say that.

  • By dalereese67, May 30, 2012 @ 8:28 AM

    Jerri,

    I haven’t been played. I no longer live in Armstrong County, so I don’t have a dog in the fight. I just follow what happens in my former hometown closely.

    It is not financially responsible to leave that school open. Unfortunately the district is not in the position to make things convenient for everyone.

  • By wakeup, May 30, 2012 @ 3:19 PM

    Jerri- If this district is 436 square miles how have you justified keeping two schools open within 3 miles of each other for the past 30 plus years?

    Is one school really that different than two schools 3 miles apart in a district that large?

  • By JornJensen, May 31, 2012 @ 3:39 PM

    ASDpayer and lucky1 – The House Finance Committee is to hold a second hearing on the Property Tax Independence Act (HB1776)on Monday, June 4, at 9:30 AM. YES! So, although your reports on the last hearing were quite grim, it appears that a 2nd hearing is coming quite quickly (14 days later) so it must be a hot item in Harrisburg. You can go to Representative Jim Cox’s website for more information if you’re interested.

  • By JornJensen, June 1, 2012 @ 9:00 AM

    wakeup and Jerri – I’d sure like to hear an answer to wakeup’s question in the post of 3:19 PM, May 30th. Repeat – “How did this district justify keeping two declining enrollment schools open, 3 miles apart, in a 436 square mile district?”, or, something to that effect. Excellent question wakeup.

  • By worthingtonman, June 1, 2012 @ 12:48 PM

    @Jorn

    The biggest answer to that question is SOLAK

  • By JornJensen, June 3, 2012 @ 9:53 AM

    worthingtonman – One man? One man with that much power? There’s typically 9 people on a school board. How did he have so much power?

    The people of Ford City kept on electing him as he ran for school board each time, so the people of Ford City are the heroes for the good things that he accomplished and they’re the villains for the things ‘not good’ accomplished – after all, they kept him in there until this last time. What changed? Did the people finally figure out that they couldn’t afford it?

    Example: Keeping a 1909 town ‘community’ school open while other other districts up and down the river valley consolidated 40 years earlier – Dr Solak to blame? The people of Ford City to blame? 9 people on a school board to blame?

    The ‘walk to school’ thing ended with the end of the baby boomers graduating – from that point forward, it was downsizing and consolidating into campus-type schools and commuting via cars and busses. Except here. ASD kept it alive another 40 years, at great cost and less-than-stellar results.

    So, build a super-school now, and don’t encompass the entire district. No wonder people are mad.

    For the build it and they will come crowd – what has been the population change out along the route 85 stretch as a result of the building of the West Shamokin school?

  • By worthingtonman, June 3, 2012 @ 9:03 PM

    @Jorn
    Solak led the save our school movement that deconsolidated what was done in the early 90′s. a lot of folks would tell you it was just cross bussing but at the time all junior high school students went to one school and the Senior high to another. The save our school movement was popular back then, but of course the enrollment at the schools was at a much higher level than what they are today. Times have changed and with that change of time so has the mentality of the electorate. I truly believe that if the previous board majority had not re opened Elderton, and would have not borrowed 80 million dollars against the will of the people Mr. Solak may still have been a board member. They got lost in the past and the electorate came to their senses and realized that we can not live in the past. and Jorn, just to be realistic, they would have to build a pretty big school to get a super school built. that description is used as a scare tactic. If you put the graduating classes from Kittanning, Elderton and Ford City together, you still would not come near the class sizes that used to graduate from Kittanning. and Kittanning is not a Super School. west Shamokin was not built to attract people to the area. West Shamokin was built because the Dayton and Shannock buildings were in bad shape and their graduating classes had also diminished. I think the folks who have their children going to West Shamokin are pretty happy with their school. Nobody will be left behind in a shoddy learning environment.

  • By Kittanning Lady, June 4, 2012 @ 5:29 AM

    Not so fast I have a niece (great) that goes to WestShamokin High School and it is already starting this year alone she has said the heaters in some of the classrooms are broken and she froze during the winter in some of these rooms. when it rains the roof leaked so bad in a room the ceiling fell in .It is already starting not keeping up with the maintenance in the ‘NEWER SCHOOL” WHY?? Fix these things now so they don’t get worse. Seats in the auditorium BROKEN flooding of the bathrooms during social functions because the bathrooms are unable to keep up with the demand.Inadequate wiring in the cafeteria to keep up with school functions,flooding of the playing fields,crack in the library wall,covered up now with a big book case.(out of sight out of mind?) cracks of separation of the floors to ceiling. Fix it before it gets too bad. The reasoning of her mother is.. they will let it go so when the class sizes get smaller they will be sent to the new school.This is why this area should be redistricted then the children can go to the nearest school. This may mean some will go to Indiana or out of Armstrong County…will never happen…why revenue.. MONEY.. MONEY..MONEY. Some of the students who went to Elderton are already signing up for cyber school not ASD cyber school.If you own a house you fix things that indeed wear out now and then why not WestShamokin?

  • By nonamerequired, June 4, 2012 @ 10:18 AM

    Worthingtonman, how exactly can curriculum be fair when classes are offered if there is a want for them, ie, population driven? Will my children be able to have classes that a school with double the enrollment can offer? What if there are only 3 or 4 children at WS who want something? West Shamokin will very shortly become the “New Elderton”. Declining enrollment, low student to teacher ratio, etc. The same problems everyone had with Elderton will follow to West Shamokin. And then what? The board is planning a school that can be added on to, because they can see exactly what the future holds. Where will that money come from? This is a rushed mess, at the best. Please don’t make this about new buildings, that’s the whole problem we have. Noone seems to be bringing up the word shoddy but you. I am a communtiy school person, I think small is better, and I feel our community will suffer when our schools are closed. We don’t need to argue about who is right or wrong, community, vs. consolidation. But if this is the route that must be forced on me, then I want my children to have all the same benefits as everyone else. I want all the children of Armstrong County to benefit.

  • By sickofpayingforit, June 4, 2012 @ 2:19 PM

    I ask again:

    How much will we save, in tax mils, by building a new school?

    What are the projected tax mils in five year increments for the next twenty years?

    If the result of any move isn’t immediate tax relief to the suffering home owners in ASD, what can we do to remedy this?

    If they can’t answer those three simple questions, they shouldn’t be focusing on anything but being able to.

  • By JornJensen, June 4, 2012 @ 4:12 PM

    sickofpayingforit – The ‘defenders’ will probably come out in full force on your 3 questions. Why do you need to know projected tax mills? Is something good going to come out of your learning this information? Why do you need to know it for 20 years, every 5 years? “You cheap tax payers only worry about your wallets.” I can just read it now before they all come out of the woodwork.

    I’d like to know the answers to your questions.

    My approach to your question #3 is to promote House Bill 1776, the Property Tax Independence Act. Passage of that bill will widen the contribution base for Pennsylvania education expenses. Answers like, “You greedy landowners should just sell some land if you don’t want to pay all those property taxes.” or “You property owners are just worried about your wallets and not about education.” is the level of answers that you get on this site from some folks. Shows the mentality we’re dealing with.

  • By Lisa, June 4, 2012 @ 7:22 PM

    Nonamerequired,
    Many people are asking the same questions that you stated above. I totally agree with your post and feel there are many others that do too.

  • By cartman, June 4, 2012 @ 7:54 PM

    When you come right down to it, there is not much of an argument for keeping West Shamokin, a school that should never have been built, open. How many districts mess with more than one high school?

  • By billbell, June 4, 2012 @ 8:57 PM

    I’m curious to know how one kittanning lady can have such a large progeny in so many buildings…

  • By Kittanning Lady, June 5, 2012 @ 5:25 AM

    @billbell easy to answer your question.I have lived in Kittanning all my life,I have many friends ,relatives and family as do many of the people who blog on here. I always say”people talk.”

  • By scott_starr, June 5, 2012 @ 6:58 AM

    @noname:
    I support you in your quest for equality of curricula, as everyone blogging here should.

    I will offer such assistance if it is wanted and needed to keep this issue at the forefront.

    My issue has always been curricula, first and foremost.

  • By asdgrad, June 5, 2012 @ 9:49 AM

    Education should always come first, but sadly we know that will not happen until this mess that we have been in for years over building is taken care of.

    As to who ever said that West Shamokin will close some day soon yes I agree with you, as I said before in articles way back that West Shamokin should be come a Jr. high, and that this new build should only be a senior high school.

  • By sickofpayingforit, June 5, 2012 @ 11:00 AM

    @ Scott Star-

    Curricula first? At what price? Is it better to have the best of the best curricula when half of the kids will be living in tents out at Crooked Creek when they tax their families out of their houses? I have found on my short time on this rock that typically the ones who say things like “money isn’t everything”, or make statements along those lines, typically have a lot of money. Everyone else, they worry about money BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO!

    I do not support top of the line curricula. I support state mandated curricula and massive tax savings. There are plenty of options for families desiring more curricula that don’t involve tapping the taxpayer to pay for it.

    C’mon folks. We cannot afford all the options around here. We need the basic model and then add on to that when the money is there. We are spending money that ISN’T THERE YET!

    Again:

    How much in tax mils will this new school save the tax payer?

    What are the projected tax mils in five year increments over the next twenty years?

    What can the school board do NOW to offer immediate and substantial tax savings to the struggling home owners in ASD.

  • By worthingtonman, June 5, 2012 @ 12:30 PM

    @Scott
    I agree on the curricula at all cost. At some point folks are going to have to realize that state minimum curricula will only hurt your children in the long run. Our children are struggling when they reach college because of this. I cringe every time someone says state minimum. There is not always a larger cost attributed to a stronger curricula. Sometimes it is just setting loftier goals. Our schools to need to at least try to keep up with the students from the global classrooms. We can not churn out ditch diggers and allow the rest of the world churn out the ditch designers.

  • By Chris_Choncek, June 5, 2012 @ 1:16 PM

    @Kittanning Lady re: your comments about my mother on May 26th……

    I am an elected official and as part of that, I have to deal with criticism (in the media or otherwise). I have no problem with that whatsoever. However, I do have a major problem with your reference to my mother. She is not an elected official, therefore you have no right to say anything about her in a publication, such as the KP.

    Admin, I am extremely disappointed that you allowed this to be posted. I request that this be removed immediately to avoid any further action.

    …and for the record, I’ve never met Mike O’Hare in my life. As always, feel free to call me to discuss further or better yet, provide your real name and I’ll call you back.

  • By JornJensen, June 5, 2012 @ 2:32 PM

    sickofpayingforit – Again, well-stated. I agree with you.

  • By admin, June 5, 2012 @ 2:46 PM

    I have to agree with you, Mr. Choncik, and apologize that we did not catch the reference. A word to all posters… keep on subject, and not get into family situations. That is not fair to family members who are not part of the article or subject matter. This has been our policy that we try to enforce, but unfortunately, did not catch this one.

  • By JornJensen, June 5, 2012 @ 2:52 PM

    The Pennsylvania House Finance Committee has scheduled a vote on HB1776 The Property Tax Independence Act for Monday, June 11, 2012. If approved, the piece of legislation will then be eligible for consideration by the full House.

    The latest groups to join the pressure for property tax elimination are the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the Pennsylvania State Grange. These two groups represent Pennsylvania’s #1 economic sector – agriculture. The farmers of the state are the land barons that should sell off their land to reduce their property taxes, right Worthingtonman?

    Here is the liberal argument against the legislation. This testimony was presented by Michael Wood, Research Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, a liberal think tank based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Now, read this carefully – “that, because the school district property tax only forces approximately 10,000 Pennsylvanians out of their homes each year, replacing the property tax is unjustifiable.” Read it again and try to understand the liberal mindset. ONLY 10,000 per year lose their homes to unpaid property taxes – ONLY 10,000! How many losing their homes will then justify property tax elimination to liberals like Michael Wood? 15,000? 30,000? These people walk among us.

    Time for us all to support elimination of school property taxes and distibute the burden of support of public education to more than just property owners.

  • By worthingtonman, June 5, 2012 @ 3:56 PM

    @kittanninglady

    I find it really hard to believe that the West Shamokin building is in the shambles you describe. Have you physically seen all these issues? do we not have maintenance in the district. Is the principal,doing such a poor job at keeping his building serviceable. It would be nice to hear these complaints from him. I am in agreement with bilbell that something is rotten in Denmark. I think that I have connected the dots and we are not all who we would like to think people are. and once again your people in the know were once again wrong on Who knows and who does not know editors of certain papers. I think you owe some apologies from under the bow dryer.

  • By Jan, June 5, 2012 @ 4:14 PM

    @worthingtonman: thank you for your last post- indeed, everything you have stated is true. State-mandated curricula is basic at best; we can not sit back and watch the educational system in this county be watered down so that those who don’t care that their children be challenged in school get their way. I’m appalled that there are people out there who are satisfied if their children get the basics and nothing beyond. If you don’t care about the type of education that students get now- then what we will have is a perpetuation of those who are lined up in the unemployment office looking for menial jobs rather than jobs that will sustain them through life. No one likes the idea of paying higher taxes- the rich or the poor. If I am going to spend my hard earned money on something, I want it to be a sound investment in the future of education and not watered down to save a few bucks.
    @sickofpayingforitall: your comments are reminiscent of Lee Ruffner when he sat on the board- he wanted our curriculum cut to the bare bones with no “mickeymouse” courses offered. Reading/riting/rithmetic are not enough to sustain students today in the workforce.

  • By rfullerton, June 5, 2012 @ 5:25 PM

    Quite frankly better curricula does not necessarily mmean ore cost. It requires appropriately trained teachers and administrators that are actually capable of finding, studying, training and implementing the changes. Unfortunately ASD has very few “professionals” capable or even willing to go the extra mile for that. Status quo is good enough. There are teachers and administrators in other parts of PA (and the US) doing this and for far less compensation and benefits. Our board should be hiring the best qualfied candidates whether they are relatives or not, not as is often seen, hiring a/an almost completely non qualfied individual(s) over a/an extremely competent, well prepared and educated (someone that has done their own graduate work) one because the former is a “good buddy” as can blatantly be seen in some fairly recent hiring (not necessarily in ASD but other Armstrong districts). This type of behavior is partly responsible for the apathy of those that should care about the quality of education. If these types of people are hired wht should anyone else go the extra mile?? Wrong…completely, prevalent…absolutely.

    BTW Dalton was an amazing student, not just academically but personally. He is the type of student we should be striving to produce here in ASD, ones who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe. These are the kids that will make a difference in the world. Congrats Dalton and Kittanning Class of 2012….you were truly a wonderful group to teach!

  • By nonamerequired, June 5, 2012 @ 5:31 PM

    Jorn- Explain to me your thinking. If you agree that curricula should be state min, and taxes as low as possible (which, let me be clear, is not something I am opposed to. My point is if this new school is shoved down my throat, I want my tax dollars to go for all children equally, not just half), then how can you support a new school? What is the point of building a new school to only have the same classes, or now less with the Corbett budget crunch? A campus style school would be a semi palatable (maybe) option IF our tax base and population was on the upswing. We all know it’s not. So, how the support for a new school, but state min curricula? There is no attack or ill will in this question, I would just like to understand.

  • By scott_starr, June 5, 2012 @ 7:12 PM

    @sickofit:
    Wow, talk about embellishing.

    Noname said equal opportunity at the “new school” and west Shamokin. I agree with that statement.

    I also agree that our curricula needs improved, but I never said spend without a thought.

    I agree with other posters that a top flight curricula does not mean higher costs.

  • By worthingtonman, June 5, 2012 @ 8:41 PM

    @Jorn
    since you have seen fit to call me out, I will respond. I find your support of property tax reform interesting. If I thought it was driven by anything besides your wallet, I might agree with you. I would support property tax reform if it truly helped those elderly, who could pass a means test, to keep their property. A sales tax does not help the elderly. Everybody living in anything besides government housing, are already paying their fair share of the property tax. Those living in government housing obviously are having troubles scratching a living. A sales tax, in my opinion will make it possible for people to cross state line to avoid it, or use Internet purchases to avoid it. Push for true reform that helps the seniors save their homes and I am all for it. Worrying about your own wallet means little to me. This bill gives conservatives a bad rap.

  • By lowfatlowcarbnosugarcheesecake, June 6, 2012 @ 2:06 AM

    @KittanningLady

    I have also witnessed what you are calling out regarding the West Shamokin architectural issues. There was a pillar that had a huge hole in it inside the building. I’m not sure that it’s still there as I haven’t been there since a fundraiser a few years ago.Hopefully they fixed it by now. West Shamokin maybe the newest school in this district, however that doesn’t make it the best. My friends children say that the art room at Elderton is much better. The sinks actually work and there is more storage and work space. The cafeteria at Elderton doesn’t have capacity issues and no one is shoved up against pillar while eating lunch like my friends daughter was. It’s not that I have anything against West Shamokin, I am a wolves fan, however I don’t think it’s beneficial to anyone, including West Shamokin students, to attend school in a building that is too crowded. I also wish administration would look into fixing the problems at West Shamokin to make it better. But like previous posters have said, West Shamokin will become the new Elderton after all is said and done. The new scape goat of the district, which will be blamed for all problems this district faces. It’s a sad and vicous cycle. But, according to what my friend and her daughter say, it’s karma.

    Once again, wishing everyone a lovely day…

  • By JornJensen, June 6, 2012 @ 3:12 AM

    Chris_Choncek and Admin – I read the Kittanning Lady Hee Haw hatpin thing about running to Mike O’Hare and whatever and just ignored it. Note that no one responded to Kittanning Lady’s post in regard to that comment on this site, so, to intelligent participants, it is a non-issue. Just ignore it.

    But, Chris, you obviously read these posts on the KP, so, tell us, when are we going to hear something from this board regarding savings plans that will pay down the $80 million? What are the consolidation plans? Where will the cuts be? We hear of a wonderful new school that won’t serve the entire district, free land with strings attached and no infrastructure, and so forth. What is the plan to get there? How about some answers to sickofpayingforit’s 3 questions? Do I need to repeat them?

    nonamerequired – Where to start? A definition of State Minimum Curricula is certainly in order – it is not just redin’, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic as Jan states – the state min is much more than that. I support advanced classes such as the advanced sciences, advanced math such as calculus, differential equations, and so forth – if they are not included in the definition of State Minimum Curricula then I am wrong to just support State Minimum Curricula, but, I support the bulk of sickofpayingforit’s post on the topic – 11 AM, June 5th, 2012 post.

    I don’t really say taxes as low as possible – I say tax ‘pulled’ and spent prudently and ‘pulled’ in a more fair manner. Distribute the tax load to a wider group of people, able to pay, via sales and income taxes rather than property taxes. Further, the state system of ‘pulling’ sales and income taxes is already established, so no additional infrastructure is needed to make that work, but elimination of property taxes gets rid of local tax collectors and assessments/reassessments – ‘make work’ that provides no product or value. Further, without property taxes, the real estate market will recover and people will spend to improve their properties without the penalty of a reassessment – and, they’ll pay more taxes, once per upgrade, in materials and labor (sales taxes). Also, the state more involved will hold school boards to higher standards, including mandatory referendums on major expenditures.

    I don’t really support a new school that doesn’t apply to the entire district. Nor do I support every community school. I support wisely downsizing and realizing our present and future enrollments and sizing to those numbers. I originally pushed hard for keeping and fixing a few of the existing buildings. I could be wrong (imagine that?), but I believe, that of the existing older buildings, only Elderton has a campus-type school without logistics problems. Sure, the new one, West Shamokin, is a campus-type – that’s been the trend since the 60′s or 70′s. So, the choice between keeping Kittanning or keeping Ford City – that choice should be obvious to any sensible person – they’re both land-locked, but Kittanning is newer and structurally more modern – so, if we don’t need all of these buildings, then close the 1909 building. To ‘outsiders’, Kittanning and Ford City are the same town stretched out along a river for 3 miles – one school should serve that area in a downsized world.

    I don’t really support a new school, but this school board has made it clear with their silence – they’re not going to listen to the taxpayers nor are they going to do what anyone but the nine thinks is the correct thing to do. That’s why I want more state involvement in our school district. I’m as dissatisfied with this school board as I was with the last one.

  • By bob, June 6, 2012 @ 7:15 AM

    @ rfullerton:
    Agree that better ciricula doesn’t necessarily mean higher cost. It does require someone willing and able to make those changes. As you know, this is difficult. Ineffective teachers collect their paychecks & create a sense of apathy among their colleagues. It’s very difficult to change this aspect of our educational system. If you followed the story about the Washington D.C. school system, you are aware they brought someone in to make some major changes. The first order of business was ridding the school system of the warm bodies just there to collect a paycheck. She was gone before the reforms were completed. My point is, it’s very difficult to implement changes to this educational system & anyone who tries gets run out…even in D.C… Yes, there could be some changes in our little corner of the world, but who would be willing to lay out some creative ideas to help enhance the education? I’m sure there are many good ideas out there, but not many willing to come forward with them… once again, the apathy thing.

  • By lucky1, June 6, 2012 @ 7:51 AM

    Jorn, let me save you any more future time and typing by summarizing what you continuously say: I am right about everything and if you do not agree with me, then you are wrong. Post after post after post (do you do anything else besides post on this site?) you send the message that you know it all. Guess what? Posting comments on any Internet website is largely a waste of time. Jorn, how many times can you post that you are against property taxes and for expanded sales taxes? We all get the message. Move on to different issues instead of beating the same dead horse over and over and over again. This goes for everyone else as well who continues to post the same thing over and over and over again. Get a life and get off this site unless you have something new to contribute, not the same, tired arguments worded in a different manner. Hey, Jorn, can you tell us just once (or maybe 25 times) more about how you are against property taxes?

  • By JornJensen, June 6, 2012 @ 8:17 AM

    Worthingtonman – Yes, I called you out as one of your solutions to peoples’ inability to pay school property taxes is to sell off property so one does not have those taxes to pay. So, if farmers sell off their properties, then who is going to raise the grain, milk the cows and put food on your table?

    Your other position on property taxes is that property owners only care about their own wallets. Don’t worry about my wallet – I can afford to pay the property taxes. But what is your solution to the 10,000 people per year that lose their homes in Pennsylvania because they can not pay their property taxes while others get the ‘free ride’ for their kids in the public school systems?

  • By samkirk, June 6, 2012 @ 9:51 AM

    @chrischoncek. Out of everything posted on these boards, you only respond to the one that points out your mommy is friends with Mike O’Hare? Thanks for showing where you’re true priorities are! Yourself !

    How about giving us total costs if this new high school?

    How about telling us why you lied for the last two years saying we couldn’t spend any money when you knew it was just to get your new high school?

    Tell us if the PSERs issue you ranted about is suddenly not an issue?

    Tell us if the school district did a feasibility study on the Manor Twp and neighboring sewage systems to see if they can support this high school?

    Tell us how many millions that will cost to correct these sewage issues when you find out it can’t!

    Tell us why out of all the locations the school district could build a school, you choose to build it next door to the Outlaws chapter house? Drugs kill dreams, right?

  • By Chris_Choncek, June 6, 2012 @ 10:17 AM

    @Jorn:

    First, I don’t read these blogs anymore and it’s against my better judgment to respond, but the post about my mother was brought to my attention by some friends. And…. easy for you to say to ignore it. It wasn’t about your mother.

    Re: the current ASD direction….We’ll save approximately $2.2M in staffing alone by closing Elderton and KT. This doesn’t include other savings expected as a result of having fewer buildings to maintain. Although the Elderton complex will still exist after the high school closes, savings will still be realized by shutting down parts of the building. We saw this the last time we closed EHS.

    It’s more difficult to provide estimates for the closures of KHS/KJHS/FC only because it’s a longer range projection. However, it’s expected that these closures will result in another $1.5-$2M in staff savings.

    In addition, with the significant reduction in building inventory over the next few years from 14 buildings to eight, the district will undoubtedly realize savings due to simple economies of scale (i.e., energy savings, less duplication of services, lower costs associated with building maintenance, etc.)

    Also, remember, the current board did not want to borrow the bond money in the first place. My voting record (along with Mr. Rearic’s and Mr. Close’s) reflects this. Defeasing the bond didn’t make financial sense as per the opinions of our bond counsel. I was (and still am) opposed to spending money to maintain buildings that are severely operating under capacity. Thus, it is my opinion that to make the best use of the bond money that we’re “stuck” with is to reduce building inventory and its associated costs and realize the savings listed above to help pay for the bond.

    Lastly, if you have (or anyone else has) any further questions or comments, feel free to call me. I’m in the book.

  • By Andrew B, June 6, 2012 @ 11:13 AM

    Call You??…..HA that will never happen Chris because most people that comment on this board like to hide behind their real name

    keep up the good work

  • By Elderton Parent, June 6, 2012 @ 11:26 AM

    No more double bus runs for Elderton K-12. What is that going to cost the district????

  • By Elderton Parent, June 6, 2012 @ 11:38 AM

    Quoting Mr. Choncek:
    “We’ll save approximately $2.2M in staffing alone by closing Elderton and KT”
    KHS/KJHS/FC “it’s expected that these closures will result in another $1.5-$2M in staff savings.”

    Close 1 elementary and 1 high school save $2.2M?
    Close 3 high schools save $1.5-2M?
    So, how many teachers have been/will be furloughed? It will be interesting to see how many actually lose their jobs and how many will be absorbed into the district somewhere.
    And BTW Mr. Choncek, you weren’t “stuck” with the money. That’s just what you lead the public to believe and they fell for it hook, line, and sinker!

  • By worthingtonman, June 6, 2012 @ 12:08 PM

    @Jorn
    I only worry about your wallet because you do. Are we to believe you champion this cause for the folks losing their homes. Give me a break. All your suggestions on this board are about protecting your wallet.
    As for my opinion on farms?I think the farmers do just fine. If they want to sell and quit planting, There are plenty more just looking for land to plant corn. I know many farmers, we live in Worthington you know. A farm is run just like any other business. If you can not run it well, then sell it and get into something you can do well. I could not tell you how many people I see with their property up for Sherrif sale for taxes. A large amount of them have good jobs, drive fancy vehicles and just don’t like to pay property taxes. Let them ride to until they have to pay. The folks I feel bad for are the seniors on fixed incomes without the means to pay them. I favor reform for them. At some point in time, most everybody in the state took advantage of a taxpayer funded education. And in my opinion a taxpayer funded education is priceless, so no matter what you end up paying back you will probably never repay your debt to society. So just because let’s say Bill does not have any kids, why is it fair for him to pay taxes? Because at some point Bill was probably educated by the system he is now funding. Again your last comment about people paying their fair share, shows nothing but arrogance and greed. I am sure if I can read you like a book, others can. If you don’t like Pennsylvania’s system, move to OHIO you work outta there so it should be convenient.

  • By JornJensen, June 6, 2012 @ 12:12 PM

    Chris_Choncek – Thank you for your public response. I’m personally not interested in one-on-one telephone discussions – I prefer information made public through the media. I like the bottom end of your response – “reduce building inventory and its associated costs and realize the savings listed above to pay for the bond.” I intentionally left the word ‘help’ out of the quote.

  • By JornJensen, June 6, 2012 @ 12:18 PM

    lucky1 – I must really annoy you, but it is good to hear from you. Are you timing my response time? What business is it of yours what I do with my time? I actually mow a lot – have a lot of grass to cut.

    If posting messages on an internet site is a waste of time, then why do you do so? From your message, it appears that you’re willing to become this internet site police-person. You’ll decide who can post what, how much and when?

    So, what are your thoughts on the Dalton Bowser article?

  • By Jerri, June 6, 2012 @ 12:40 PM

    Chris_Choncek-You come onto this board and then tell people to call you? That to me is typical of your “stealth” persona that you have been playing for way too long. It’s easy to talk to people individually. Most people don’t understand the issues enough to challenge you. You can tell them anything you want. Why don’t you just be honest? You will lie and create problems in order to get the answer that you have always wanted. A new high school. Funny, if this is so great for everyone involved, then why the secrecy? And why not close any Kittanning schools this year? They could easily fit into the other three high schools. And the savings would be more significant. After all, the projected savings for the closing of Elderton is higher due to it is to be closed first. It’s not hard to understand that the most cuts will be done at what school is closed first.

    I do want to thank you for verifying what I have said a number of times on this board. If it is true that the district is doing 40 cuts in the Elderton area (which you didn’t give cuts but you gave a $2.2 million estimate in savings), there will be very little to cut to support building a new school. Look at your figure posted above. You are estimating $1.5 to $2 million for THREE schools closing. The payments on a new school will be much more than that!

    I remember seeing you rant at board meetings rejecting figures given on closing the KJHS. But yet, you jump at the chance to close Elderton and Kittanning Township with no questions. I will have more faith in you when I see your own child on a bus for an hour or when your children go to a school where they are separated from their friends. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    And those of us that have been following this closely know you wanted that $80 million for a new school. Your backers in the courthouse gladly helped that happen for you. I have said before and I will say it again. There needs to be a federal investigation into our county planning department, Valasek, McClister, and the current school board as well as the dynamic duo White and Pyle. If you have nothing to hide, you should welcome this investigation.

    Your voting record shows you voted on an outrageous teacher contract and against cutting 60 unnecessary positions last year because you wanted those savings only to show up to justify a new school. You even supported suing this school district that you represented. I call that selfish and a waste of taxpayer money.

    You should come on here and give us REAL answers. What are the total costs for this new high school? Quit insulting our intelligence and give us REAL NUMBERS. How much is the total cost for this new school? That includes all athletic fields (if you are temporarily using other fields then include the costs for what you are doing to those fields to accomodate more parking, etc. for the interim). That includes all infrastructure. That includes additional bus costs. That includes all costs paid to the Sherry Family Trust and Allegheny Real Estate. That includes the millions that LR Kimball and Reynolds construction received for projects that you had a part in stopping. That includes the millions the same people are making now.

    And please include a list of all new courses this school will be offering and how many additional rooms and teachers will be hired for these courses. Please include the costs of either demolishing the existing schools (including unfinished asbestos abatement costs that will need done) or the costs of maintaining those empty buildings.

    Please also include your elementary school plan. Sending the Kittanning Township Elementary kids to Lenape will cause teachers on carts again and overcrowding. Anyone can look at the building plan and use the math to calculate that. It also puts the nail in the coffin for Elderton Elementary. But then, you don’t really care about that do you?

    And what about Shannock and Dayton Elementaries?

    I have many more questions, it would be nice to at least have total costs on this new school. And then go to the public with referendum.

  • By dalereese67, June 6, 2012 @ 12:41 PM

    Jorn,

    You have some numbers, so please outline what you plan to do with them.

    While you’re at it, explain to me how you would reduce the drug problem in the area. I’m still waiting on that one.

    Apparently if you don’t have a website with numbers to regurgitate to us or someone elses writing to cite, then you don’t answer.

    Also to add to something you wrote above… You are 100% sure that people lose their homes in PA because they can’t pay property taxes? Maybe they bought a house they couldn’t afford. How many of these 10,000 had their houses paid off already? Of these 10,000 how many are in AC?

    Just another example of a statistic being used to convey what you want people to think. As they say, figures lie and liars figure.

  • By worthingtonman, June 6, 2012 @ 2:12 PM

    @Chris
    I would stay away from this board. Everyone would like to say you get a fair representation of your community and the wants, desires and opinions on this board. I can tell you that out of around 295 comments on the last two comments concerning ASD you had right around 50 commenters. It is pretty much the same 50 of us blowhards spewing on and on. The main stream of the constituents are not on here demanding answers from the board. It is well accepted that the numbers they want are not yet available in a credible form. So although at times it may seem like there are hundreds of commenters on here, there really are not. I would say out of the 50 or so commenters, about 50 % of those do the majority of the postings on here. I am one of those people and enjoy reading other comments, but it is not the grand forum folks make it out to be. It is not the place where you must answer or feel the wrath of the voters. The Majority of the voters are by far not posting here. And surely are not looking here for answers.

  • By sickofpayingforit, June 6, 2012 @ 5:11 PM

    @ Scott Star-

    Fair enough. I reread the post and agree that I did take your statement of “curricula first, and foremost” to the very extreme end of what could be read into that. I tend to agree with a good bit of what you have to say, so I wanted to challenge that statement to make sure my “radar” was still calibrated.

    Carry on!

  • By VerySpecialPerson, June 6, 2012 @ 5:21 PM

    Well, people like Jerri are the reason more of our leaders don’t respond on blogs. Let’s get out the kitchen sink and throw it at Mr. Choncek while we are at it, Jerri! Geez! Pick a topic and discuss it, don’t slam him with it. I wouldn’t blame him if he never comes back to discuss anything. You went from talking about savings and costs to a call for a federal investigation and elementary school plans.
    For one, I appreciate him at least making an attempt to clarify some issues. I would like to see the Board much more transparent. I noticed today that the new district newsletter has a artist rendering of the new campus, but I have never seen that in the Kittanning Paper or Leader Times. Why keep it hidden?
    But Mr. Choncek at least blogged a few paragraphs on some topics that would take the pages of a novel to fully explore. Let him breathe a little. Please come back, Mr. Choncek, and continue your dialogue.

  • By nonamerequired, June 6, 2012 @ 5:24 PM

    Worthingtonman, you have got to be kidding me! Blowhards? Because we worry about our taxes, education of our children and welfare of our communities? I am being one hundred percent honest when I say that when I speak to anyone, and this subject comes up it is NOT well accepted that this board can’t give us numbers. Maybe in your circle it’s fine to wait until it’s too late, but I am not ok with that route. You don’t need to make any of us taxpayer’s less important to Mr. Choncek, even if you don’t like the forum.

    And dale, Jorn isn’t a one man tax reforming, drug fighting ninja. He has ideas. Here we express ideas. What is your problem with that? Also, every year in the paper is a list of folks who struggle to pay taxes. What else do you need?

  • By sickofpayingforit, June 6, 2012 @ 6:09 PM

    @Jan and the top of the line education at any cost club-

    My kids want to go to Disneyland for vacation but I cannot afford to take them. I am thinking of knocking on every home owner’s door in this district and asking them for money so I can take them to Disneyland. Why not? Other kid’s from other areas get to go to Disneyland. Why shouldn’t my kids get to go? Well, I found out that the home owners all are already paying too much for free Kennywood trips so I will have to take my kids to the free Kennywood trip instead. Maybe the onus is on ME to manage my personal situation better to take my kids to Disneyland, if that is what I desire? Maybe I was wrong to expect every single home owner in this district to pay for my kids to go to Disneyland, when they are already paying dearly for the free Kennywood trips?

  • By nonamerequired, June 6, 2012 @ 6:15 PM

    VSP- You may not like the tone of Jerri’s posts, but you can’t deny they are questions that should be answered. Taxpayers shouldn’t be looked at as a hindrance to an agenda. Many of us have tried to pick a topic and discuss it. We are met with silence.

  • By sickofpayingforit, June 6, 2012 @ 6:16 PM

    @ Worthingtonman-

    I agree it is a smaller percentage of the total constituency that blog on here. However, this dynamic is typical in all groups, tribes, collectives, teams, etc. The smallest percentage is the leaders. The biggest percentage is the apathetic members, or silent partners, and the rest are the ones who challenge the leaders and keep them honest. A group, team, etc. could not function well, or at least very long, without all of these individual mini-groups within the larger group.

    With all of this said, I support this site and it’s ability to have the watch dogs publicly state their questions and oppositions for all to hear. Furthermore, having a politician put something in writing in this day and age of the political shell game style politics is about the most desirable thing I can possibly think of! One would hope that people who garnered official votes would have some sort of public record, jeesh. This board is about as transparent as a hood from a Ford pick up truck, and we are talking about lots and lots of money being spent.

    “Who is watching the Watchmen?”

  • By Jan, June 6, 2012 @ 6:41 PM

    Seriously Jerri- you honestly think that anyone can give you ALL of the information you are looking for now? Let me ask you this- do you know what your projected salary is going to be in 5 years? Perhaps that is not a good example to use but it shows exactly what I’m getting at. You want answers that just are not possible at this point in time. You will get answers to what the board knows at this point in time- and that is the savings to closing EHS and Kittg. Twp.
    And for the record- your beloved past board had plans for closing Kittg. Twp- so please, don’t point the finger regarding this at the new board. You people have short, short memories. It was the last board who started this mess with borrowing money to renovate dilapidated schools with low enrollment- it was the last board that spent unnecessary money for asbestos removal and it was the last board who lowered the taxes so that we could all enjoy our $50 windfall- all the while, they knew exactly what chaos they were creating and they knew it was their last grand gesture to screw up this district.
    I seriously think that if Mr. Choncek gave you every answer asked you would still not believe it or find a way to twist it into something illegal or manifested. Mr. Choncek owes you nothing- and if you want answers, as he said, get on the phone and call him or any other board member for that matter. I’m very sure that when all facts are known- the board will present it at their monthly meetings.

  • By GetSmart, June 6, 2012 @ 7:32 PM

    @ Jerri
    WOW!!! And then you wonder why board members don’t ususally post here.
    @ Chris Conchek
    I agree with Veryspecialperson. Very well stated and thanks for doing it. But, your statements will mostly be a lighting rod for more criticism from the naysayers.

  • By out&about, June 6, 2012 @ 8:13 PM

    Really Chris — people only want you to comment so they have evidence to use against you. Thanks for your comments BTW. Who really looks to a discussion board for real information. Jorn et al. need to participate in the system the way it is designed (at meetings) not in some pseudo-public chat if they really want to invoke change.

    It is curious that Elderton Parent and Jerri both mention the closing of 3 High schools. Both neglect the fact that 1 new HS is opening which modifies their critique. Are you two reading from the same script?

    Another perspective on property tax — if it cost nothing to own property then what incentive is there to make your property productive. From an agricultural perspective if I have an certain cost per acre to own property and I am not interested in farming it anymore then it makes more sense for me to sell it to someone who is going to make the land productive.

    Disagree if you must, but mowing acres of grass is the “chore” of the affluent.

  • By worthingtonman, June 6, 2012 @ 8:14 PM

    @Veryspecialperson

    You hit the nail on the head. Although Jerri’s rant sure brought the turtles head out of the shell. Sour Grapes huh Jerri…. You were voted off the island for a reason.

  • By worthingtonman, June 6, 2012 @ 8:38 PM

    @noname
    I am sorry I offended you. I guess blowhard is a bit tough, even though I included myself. I enjoy the board. I enjoy the comments. sometimes they make me laugh. sometimes they make me think. and sometimes they make me mad. My comment was only to Mr. Choncek, because I knew he would draw the rile of Jerri. It is just in my opinion that any board member opening themselves up to a anonymous chat board will lead to the full frontal attack he took. I realize he is a bright man and probably did not need my advice. But if I was in his shoes and some random person saw fit to attack my mother I would have reacted the same way. a person can come on here and throw as many dears around they want, but the truth of the matter is attacking a persons mother because of a political agenda is just nasty.

  • By billbell, June 6, 2012 @ 9:32 PM

    Ask the district energy czar to see the energy cost breakdown per building. If I recall, the Elderton complex was the second most expensive building to run in terms of pure dollars. (I think West Hills, at 2-3x the students was the most expensive.) If you factor in cost per student, it was/is far and away the most expensive to run and operate. Perhaps that’s why the district saved so much money when they closed it? It is the most expensive building on the inventory!

  • By wakeup, June 6, 2012 @ 11:12 PM

    You asked for numbers and a board member answered it the best he could but you still condemn him. You do not want renovated schools, you do not want a new school, you have no real solutions other than wanting lower taxes. You want to “right size” the district with no clue what that looks like. You do not believe the cost for the new school. You blamed the Snyders with their hand in the land deal that was proved wrong.
    Maybe it’s time you stopped to think you are why this district has the highest taxes with a “bare bones education” or state average as it has been put?

    Chris.. I commend you for the courage to put yourself out there while other board memBers communicate tthrough “friends” or hide behind screen names.

  • By JornJensen, June 6, 2012 @ 11:19 PM

    Worthingtonman – Again, we disagree. Your post of 2:12 PM, June 6 in which you give advice to Chris Choncek. You are in your own world there as you use a pseudonym on this site. Try using your real name as Mr. Choncek and I do and check the results when you’re out and about in the local communities – you’ll learn how well this site is read. I challenge you to use your real name and, while you’re at it, trim down your hatred for me a little bit, please. sickofpayingforit’s explanation to you (post 6:16 PM, June 6) explains reality quite well.

    nonamerequired – Thanks for the support – I liked the ninja thing – from my off-site commenting friends (yes, I actually do have friends), I’ll get ninja for a while. I got spaccone for a while as well as uneducated moron and know-it-all.

    I have no intent to ‘beat up’ on Chris Choncek on this site. I appreciate the information that he fronted – he’s the first and, hopefully, not the last. I also recall that he participated about a year ago. I’ve tried the school board meeting route – it goes nowhere – commenters comment before the meeting, then the meeting moves on – to other topics.

    out&about – thank you for considering me ‘affluent’ – makes me feel good. I’ll pass that one on to the president of our company, then he can feel good that he overpays me so that I can be affluent.

    Dale – You’re not going to suck me into a drug discussion on an article titled “Free” Land comes with a “Price” to ASD. Sorry.
    The numbers that Chris gave do not give me a ‘warm and fuzzy’ on savings paying down the loan – the word ‘help’ in his discussion causes me concern. $2, 3, 4 million in savings is not going to pay things down anytime soon. We’re already 5 million short for the operating budget alone, so where does the loan repayment begin?Still would like to hear who is going to swing the axe.

    To all – any questions on the 10,000 people losing their homes per year to unpaid property taxes – that’s not my number – that is a number quoted by Mr. Michael Wood, Research Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center in testimony to the House Finance Committee regarding House Bill 1776, The Property Tax Indepndence Act. You’ll have to do an internet search for that outfit and question him. I have no interest in doing so. He’s the one that stated that 10,000 people losing homes does not justify changing the taxing method, so let him defend his position.

  • By jfullerton, June 7, 2012 @ 12:10 AM

    Jan,

    Although Jerri’s rant was a bit over the top, he/she certainly deserves answers from the board, as does everyone on here. I would agree this is not the forum, but they should be talking/sharing a bit more than they are. Why should it be the taxpayer to make the calls? A well planned press release or email blast or as in a newsletter could pass the message and make things a little clearer. After all, they are elected officials and you and I along with some other folks were very critical of the last board and some of the members who did not say anything. (John Monroe ring a bell) Cannot have it both ways.

  • By ASDpayer, June 7, 2012 @ 8:37 AM

    @Jorn
    Actually I did look up the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center testimony by Michael Wood. He says, “proponents of bill 1776 will put 10,000 people out of their homes.” He then goes on to dispute that. His whole testimony is against 1776 because it impacts seniors and the poor. He does point out that in PA we tax property at about 3percent of income. We rank about 23rd nationwide. The big gainers in eliminating property taxes are corporations. This is going nowhere so it is not germane.

  • By amazed, June 7, 2012 @ 8:46 AM

    I haven’t been on here for a long time, so it took me awhile to read all these posts. What I do not understand is why so many of you keep asking the same questions that were answered in an ASD document (Staffing/Cost Reductions Related to Secondary Education Building Options) that was linked from a neighboring county’s newspaper a few weeks ago. For example, on page 4 of the document, it states that with a “…building size of 1725 [students], there will be a combined savings for staffing of $16,420,195 over 5 years.” The document itemizes the “…reduction of staff, coaching/assistants and bussing…” needed. This does NOT include the additional savings that will be generated by the reduction of building inventory and the operational savings in utility costs.

    Instead of going back and forth with the questions, at least check this out for yourselves. Some of the answers you want are in print. Obviously these are projections, but they are based on the facts presently known, which is all that can reasonably be expected of a projection. This document also discusses other items that will impact the budget: the amount of state subsidy, the expenditures for health care, contracts, and PSERS.

  • By dalereese67, June 7, 2012 @ 9:12 AM

    Noname,

    What a stupid post. You’re right. He isn’t a one man tax reforming/drug fighting ninja. He just acts like one on here. The only problem is that none of the ideas he presents are his. He spews numbers from websites and when he gets challenged on them, he deflects to the author of the site or article.
    As for people not being able to pay their taxes… who’s to know how else they’re wasting their money. They probably have financial issues that run deeper than tax payment.

    Why is Jorn the only one allowed to challenge someone or ask questions on here?????????

  • By dalereese67, June 7, 2012 @ 9:25 AM

    Jorn,

    I’m not permitted to discuss drugs (which are far more of an issue in AC than these schools) on this thread, but you can discuss using an A-blade in Worthington and helicopters with Worthingtonman on an LED sign post article? I asked a valid question and you got your you know what’s in a twist.

    You always require people on here to look up this and that, or provide you with answers when you question them, why should you be excluded from responding to questions?

    Apparently Jorn has rules for posting on here, or what questions are allowed to be asked. Please let us all know what they are so we don’t violate them.

  • By Kittanning Lady, June 7, 2012 @ 9:31 AM

    @Jorn, I have been talking to some construction workers in our area .The question I asked was about the 52 million dollar price on the new school. IT was laughted at they said look at the contract for unforeseen costs. I asked what this meant they said it means a loophole for the construction company and the school district meaning this school will cost more “a lot more”. But, the school district(knowing full ahead what will be happening) will just reply to the taxpayers OH we had to pay more money for the school because of “unforeseen costs” . Costs they were fully aware of and are just playing us as fools .Just for instance the sewage problem that FordCity or Kittanning will not be able to accommodate the school and it will be an added 1to2or more million dollars.But, we will be told it was unforeseen,not true when they already know.Things like this will never be released to the public. The reason I addressed this to you …You seem like a highly intelligent person maybe you know of this and can give us the taxpayers some more information on this statement “UNFORESEEN COSTS.”

  • By worthingtonman, June 7, 2012 @ 10:44 AM

    @Jorn

    I like the anonymity. Gonna stay with it. I especially like people trying to guess my name. It is kinda like a game. And to be truthful with you, I don’t hate you! I don’t even know you. You just make me tired sometimes. Especially when you take to beating a dead horse, and blindly follow some of the other posters. Remember, just because someone said it on here, does not make it gospel. And no board members are gonna answer your questions on here. It just is not gonna happen. Do not judge them on blind faith. Call them up. Talk to them.

  • By Elderton Parent, June 7, 2012 @ 11:41 AM

    jfullerton, I couldn’t agree more. Short of personnel and other issues that are not legally permitted to be discussed in public, this school board should be transparent in every aspect of this school district. We, the taxpayers, are who they report to.

  • By JornJensen, June 7, 2012 @ 12:26 PM

    So, it appears that we have two distinct camps, among other distinct camps, the ‘information requesters (aka naysayers) and the ‘defenders’.
    The requesters thinking that there’s information available now but not being released, or, worse yet, no information developed and we’re just tooling along, and the defenders saying that it takes time to develop that stuff as we move along. In five years, one camp will be able to tell the other, “I told you so.”

    Wonder which way it will go?

    I’d sure like to have a level of comfort in thinking that this board knows what it is doing. The quiet is deafening. The infrastructure questions regarding drainage, roads, sewage that go along with the free land. The questions of how we’ll pay down the loan with downsizing and consolidation. On and on.

    Wonder what 5 years will show?

    wakeup – To whom are you referring in your use of the word ‘you’ in your post of 11:12 PM, June 6th? Anyone in particular or the group of information requesters (naysayers) in general?

    What does right-sizing look like? Looks like placing 5551 students in less buildings and offering a wider curriculum to those students, even with a reduced teacher count. Looks like 250 less students by 2015. We have administration that should be capable of placing those 5551 or 5301 in a well-distributed fewer groups of buildings with least-distance bussing. I don’t think that is that difficult to visualize.

  • By Jan, June 7, 2012 @ 4:04 PM

    jfullerton: I am not expecting it both ways. If I want specific answers, I contact my school board representative. While I understand your point of view- the point I am trying to make is that people are asking for things that can’t be answered yet- at least, not in a definitive manner- and this is what some people are asking for. That way, they can nail the board members if something different occurs. This board is being cautious in providing answers- not because they are attempting to blind-side people but because until voting occurs on the closure of EHS and Kittg. Twp, and the architects have all the tests/studies done for the new school, most information would be speculative rather than definitive. The board has a handle on things but are waiting until they give all of us the information we need to have. I feel confident with this…just sayin.

  • By scott_starr, June 7, 2012 @ 8:01 PM

    The board should be giving us a Best Case / Worst Case scenario…. just so we know what to expect.

  • By JornJensen, June 7, 2012 @ 8:14 PM

    Jan – Okay, not in a definitive manner – how about in generalities? Estimates? A plan? You are saying people want to ‘nail’ board members – we want to develop a level of comfort with these board members. Silence doesn’t do that. I haven’t read anyone on here that wants to ‘nail’ board members – people just want information – this involves millions of dollars. We’d like to arrive at a level of comfort that they know what the heck they’re doing.

    What is your great level of comfort (confidence) coming from? Do you know something that should comfort the rest of us?

  • By worthingtonman, June 7, 2012 @ 8:58 PM

    @jorn
    I see it differently I see those be realistic and knowing that a lot of work needs done by the administrators to give the numbers as needed. and I see those also being unrealistic and demanding figures and costs and estimates that are just not there yet. Now we had Mr. Choncek start throwing around preliminary estimates and we are talking millions of dollars. The answers will,come soon. Look at it from a business stand point. say I have a crucible failure and melt through a crucible and damage a coil. If I call Brian up is he going to quote me costs and estimates for repair, or,is he going to either pick up the coil or,have it shipped back to the company and go over it with a fine toothed comb and provide me with a Cost estimate that will provide me with Quote that is realistic? Of course he will pick it up because he is a great guy. and he will provide me the cost estimate I can feel comfortable with giving them the repair job. Give them a few months. I am sure the answers people are looking for will be there. and they will be close. 5 years from now I can not see us any worse off than we are now. Saddled with tens of millions dollars worth of debt. Buildings with very low enrollment. and buildings in disrepair.

  • By wakeup, June 7, 2012 @ 9:33 PM

    Jorn- great you make right sizing sound easy …. Lets do it! Which buildings do we keep and which do we close?

    Not so easy is it? This debate runs deep but if you think you can provide a solution instead of painting with a broad brush to “right size” with what we have you should present it.

    Please also keep in mind you will be spending substaitial dollars over the next ten years to renovate buildings that have been neglected for decades.

    We need people to help find solutions not post after post with a list of demands from aynomous bloggers. I mean really do you think an elected official that gives up their time for this district owes it to you to search you out and answer your questions. How many times have people been asked to just call a board member and they will take their time to answer your questions. I think that is going above and beyond and wonder How many of you would take that call let alone give up your time to sit on the board.

  • By wakeup, June 7, 2012 @ 9:39 PM

    BTW – jorn the second half of my post was not directed towards you. I believe you did give up your time to serve your community as a school board member and i do respect you for that. However, i do wonder if you did all the things you expect of this board during your tenure?

  • By JornJensen, June 7, 2012 @ 9:57 PM

    Dale – I’ll guess that Admin will allow you to post all you want about drugs on any topic thread on this site that you want – it is their site, their choice. Post to your heart’s content, I guess. Likewise, other people probably have a right to respond or not – that is their choice, I guess.

    Kittanning Lady – I’d be careful with my sources – construction workers? I think that you have a very valid concern with sewage – that is, any existing plants being able to handle it, not the problem of getting it there. Today’s technology in sewage piping/pumping is quite high tech. The problem is capacity once it gets where it is going. Unforseen costs equates to incomplete preparation work, but people aren’t perfect, so the question becomes, “What percent over or what amount of dollars over?” Low percent over/under is a reasonable expectation. Way off is poor preparation or intentional deceit.

    ASDpayer – What you report that Michael Wood stated is 180 degrees out of phase from what I’ve heard from Representative Jim Cox, so, who to believe? If I look at what you wrote, it is to be read that elimination of property tax and changing that over to increased sales and income tax will put 10,000 people out of their homes. How can that be? Are you saying that paying more sales tax (a choice tax) and more income tax (CAN be a choice tax) makes it so that people can’t afford to live in their property-tax-free home? I don’t understand. Sounds like a lib twist to me. I guess I’ll also have to go to Michael Wood’s site and see if I get the same out of it that you did. I CAN see that the inability to pay property taxes can force people out of their homes, but, the other way around? Sounds like a spin to me. Dale wants me to do the research anyhow.

  • By Tankster, June 7, 2012 @ 10:35 PM

    Thanks, jfullerton for your input. I am glad somebody else is getting it.

    Directing those questions to Jan is a waste of time. All you need to do is read a history of her posts. She is basically telling everybody reading this that there are no projections (which undoubtedly is a fabrication or a blatant very bad business venture by the ASD school board). She is trying to say it many times thinking that if she keeps repeating herself that it somehow becomes the truth.

    I have come to the conclusion that we are not going to get any cost savings, even estimates to projections, until the building has started.

    And Joe, you are absolutely correct, it should not be that taxpayers should be informed by making the effort to contact the school board for each and every question. I am sure the individual members would not want that.

    This board has officially become the Silent Seven.

    Jan, you can keep using your PR campaign horn to repeat the same things over and over, but you are being viewed as nothing more than a carnie crony for this board. She is trying to sell a sham a bad bag of goods to the taxpayers, but she underestimated that the taxpayers are a little smarter than she thought.

    Her posts are becoming meaningless as more and more people begin to question the details of this plan. Let me restate that this was a good plan and a good theory for this new school, but when the tough questions began being ignored and information is being withheld from the taxpayers, the issue is getting ugly, real ugly.

    In the minds of people like Jan, silence is compliance.

    Taxpayers do not let this happen; demand the answers and information you deserve. This is YOUR money!

  • By Kittanning Lady, June 8, 2012 @ 5:24 AM

    @Jorn,Thank You for your reply.I state construction workers because of the animosity of some people who blog on here .I am protecting these people who may just own their own company.There are people who read these blogs and go out of their way to find out who we are to do what ever they can to make our lives miserable. To anyone,I would rather my school board Rep call a special meeting and address the public with updates on the projects than calling them on their phone. These are elected officials so have updates on the progress so far.@Worthingtonman ,who is this Brian you are talking about?Do you know him so well as to call him by his first name?

  • By JornJensen, June 8, 2012 @ 7:20 AM

    wakeup – I realized that the 2nd half of your post did not apply to me as I do use my real name on here and because I have been a school board director. We went through a lot of ‘torture’ when we closed the West Leechburg elementary schools, and the Gilpin school. Our kids walked to the West Leechburg schools – disrupted that and put them on busses. We explained the finances to the people – we communicated – we received and put the public’s input into the plans. As with all decisions with a group called the public, you couldn’t please everyone. The Gilpin folks fought the hardest against their building closure. When we were done, all that was left was the building(s) downtown. We looked at the same thing back then – enrollment decline and the cost to keep the buildings and teachers. After a while, it all calmed down – there may still be some hate from the Gilpin folks – I don’t know. The West Leechburg schools were razed. The Gilpin school was sold to a private outfit and I see that some or most of it has been razed. Even with all of that, the Leechburg school district, hunkered down into one set of buildings, one location area, has financial troubles today, just like every other school district. The closure of the Leechburg mill, the lack of work, the growth of the illegal drug culture and so forth – that area, even with the consolidation back in those days (which let us survive a while longer) suffers just like like the ASD does today.

    You ask how to consolidate. Someone has access to the numbers. 14,000 students in 1974 – what was the population per school at that time? What is the population per those same schools today (with Worthington, East Brady and any others gone)? Which, today, are the more utilized and which are the less utilized? If either of the two closest ones (FC and Kittanning) has enough capacity for all students from both, then close one of those two schools and combine the students – that would be step number one – the bus ride for some will only be 3 miles. If I had more access to details, I could give a better recommendation. For example, of the 4 high schools to close, which one first? Elderton? What about bussing distance to another high school? West Shamokin? What about bussing distance to another building? Then you look at the two closest schools to one/another in the 3 mile town along the river – which one to close? If the Kittanning building has the capacity to take in the Ford City students, then close Ford City since it is the oldest and has structural deficiencies. Of course Ford City people will fight and argue that.

    I was willing to join the ASD board when Sara Yassam ‘walked’, but I was not willing to be interviewed by the present board. I was willing to be interviewed by a judge. Why? Because I’d be willing to swing the axe and do a downsizing/consolidation without building a new high school. I doubt that a single member of the present school board would select me to sit on this board (maybe Royce Smeltzer would) – I would not have stood a chance, not even with credentials and a resume. I’d have stood a chance with a judge. Plus, I don’t have any relatives or family members working in this school district, so there’d be no personal gain except having a voice in what I pay for public education and helping our area climb out of the rut we’re in.

    One of the things that grinds my gears the most was the clean white board brainstorming – I thought, “Wow, these people are really going to let us be involved.” One session, then it was erased and a 4 new high school plan came out. Wow! What did I miss here? I must have been napping.

  • By worthingtonman, June 8, 2012 @ 7:44 AM

    @Jorn
    If we consolidate and downsize into the best building of the lot, What to do with the 72 million dollars?

  • By JornJensen, June 8, 2012 @ 8:16 AM

    Tankster – Keep up the good fight.

    Worthington Lady – I agree with you. There are a few on here that say, “Call your individual school board member with your individual question.” Chris Choncek is included in that group that says that. So, let’s see how that works. I have a on-on-one discussion with Linda Walker about the upcoming contract. What next? How does anyone else know anything about that discussion? So, I post on here and I’m a liar – I’m attacked – I’m a know-it-all and an uneducated moron. Oh yes, I’m also arrogant. Sorry, I don’t see that system working very well. Public communication by the school board that goes out through the media is the way things should be done – even with that, there’s misinterpretation by the public. And there’s retractions by the public officials and so forth, but it is much better than one-on-one communication. Although these directors are unpaid, they still work for us, and report to us, the taxpayers. Don’t like that view school director? Then quit.

    Brian is a fellow that works for the company that I work for – Worthingtonman and I mutually know him. Worthingtonman is trying to convince me, through an industrial example, that one-on-one communications is much better than public disclosure of information through the media. Sorry, not taking the bait.

    Jan – Not doing the one-on-one calls. See my logic above. C’mon, you’re educated.

  • By wakeup, June 8, 2012 @ 10:29 AM

    Jorn- So if I read it correctly your answer to right size is to take Ford City and Kittanning 7 – 12 and put them into either Kittanning high school or Ford City? So which ever cost less to renovate is the new high school? This is the plan you support? From experience I bet you get more people that support the current new school plan to back you than those that oppose it!

    In regards to the board members, are you saying that it is now expected of board members to read and respond to blogs or that they should just hold press conferences? I may be missing something but how many past board members have done this? What about the ones that borrowed 80 million dollars?

    The way I have always seen this process work is the media reports on meetings or topics and try’s to get feedback from the elected officials through interviews. I have not seen articles in which a candidate gave a “no comment” answer to a question so I am not seeing the lack of transparency you speak of?

    It would be nice if a elected official would “blog” but come on that is not the norm and we both know that most would use it as a way to attack the board member as “Jerri” did instead of a forum to work toward solutions which may be your intent.

  • By nonamerequired, June 8, 2012 @ 11:48 AM

    Worthingtonman, that’s where the renovations come in. Noone can deny that these buildings need work. Noone. The plan of the old board was to close some, realize those savings (this new board isn’t the only board to say there are savings to be had from closing schools) and renovate others. I guess it just comes down to community schools, vs one bigger one. Why is one school, that only Ford City and Kittanning children attend, better than three smaller community schools that help our towns and children? Teachers salaries? Building maintenance? Pensions? Upkeep? Well, I guess if they were forthcoming in projected estimated savings, we could see the difference between the two choices. Have you ever started something, could be anything? A new roof, a porch, a blown engine rebuild and you realize after starting, “holy cow! This isn’t quite what I was bargaining for”. I fear that is the case now. And yes, I did hear and absorb the arguement that that happens a lot more with old buildings, and I validate that arguement.. However, at least for me and the “community people” that taken chance is better than a ghost town and a “great” new school that doesn’t help all of our children. And I use great with quotes because I am not a person who believes bigger and newer means better. I think the power of the internet alone will start to change the landscape of education in the near future.

  • By JornJensen, June 8, 2012 @ 12:35 PM

    Worthingtonman – We were down that road on this site back when we had the brief whiteboard exercise – I’ll repeat (and this is from the guy who never presents any ideas that he, himself has come up with) – use the leftover dollars from the 80 million to make needed improvements to whatever buildings were to be kept for the coming years – that means to move students around for a few years, from building to building, (like PennDOT says, Temporary Inconvenience for a Permanent Improvement) until those upgrades are accomplished, then abandon/sell/demolish those buildings that do not make the cut. Cut the workforce to fit the student population. Pay down the loan with the savings of less buildings, less staff.

    Sure, the new high school will be a wonderful thing, but don’t buy, for a second, the theory of ‘build it and they will come’ because ‘they’ won’t want to pay the property taxes of the ASD.
    But, hey, I have another idea – get rid of school property taxes and replace them with increased sales and income taxes – that way, with level taxation to pay for education across the state, maybe ‘they’ will come to the new building. Did I mention that idea before? I don’t recall. Oh, those senior moments!

  • By dalereese67, June 8, 2012 @ 1:10 PM

    Jorn is probably unsure of a phone conversation because he won’t have time to get on the internet and read some articles that will tell him how to think.

    Honestly Jorn, you only get attacked because you attack others on here. You know what they say about the squeaky wheel getting the oil (in your case the attention).

    Please do research the 10,000 home losses. I’d really like to see how many can exactly be pinpointed to property taxes. Common sense would dictate that these people were over budget in other areas of their life as well.

  • By Tankster, June 9, 2012 @ 11:48 AM

    It seems pretty clear that this ASD is divided. The different factions are pretty clear on their beliefs and agendas. Attempting to categorize these factions loosely, it seems that three distinct groups are out there:

    The Community School Group – They are willing to go through any steps or processes to keep THEIR community schools open. It does not matter the number of children who are enrolled in their community school. It does not matter the cost of money to the taxpayers to renovate the older buildings. They believe that keeping a high school open in their community is the only way to maintain a vibrant community. They do not realize that times are different now. The jobs which produced families and children are gone. The job situation in Armstrong County is beyond dismal. There is no end in sight in regards negative environment within this county. There is not even a hint of something positive occurring within this district to increase the tax base. Just as time has moved on, so did the time for community schools. It is no longer feasible.

    The Egghead Elitists – This group is comprised of people who like to take advantage of people, situations and circumstances. Since the Solakian tribe was removed from office, their main theme has been to blame everything on the old board. They like to keep the focus of the present. They are not strictly advocates of consolidation, because the majority of people who favor consolidation also oppose the views and visions. The Eggheads think that the ASD borrowing $80 million now allows them to spend without limits to build a new school or campus. The Eggheads also seem to have some type of private ties with other organizations such as the teachers union and other professionals. They try to sell the public taxpayers that they are conservatives and this is why they disagreed with the school renovations but within two or three sentences, they will say that children deserve the best education so keeping as many teaching positions as possible is a good thing despite the cost. Constructing swimming pools and new athletic stadiums and fields is somehow part of the logic of bringing business to Armstrong County. This has been unproven time and time, again, but they really want YOU to believe it. They cling onto their education and diploma as somehow knowing better than the average taxpayer, even simplest of mathematics and a little bit of business knowledge can show that they are trying to working with a hidden agenda. They are shrewd and conniving and they love to do their work behind closed doors. Transparency is not only resented by them; it is abhorred. They think that keeping silent will somehow justify their defense when districts keep increasing. They can always say, “We never said that……..” Saying it is Solak’s fault no longer works. The shovel has been passed and the Silent Seven keep digging the hole deeper. They live by the motto, “If I have to pay higher taxes then so should you, only I can afford to do that.”

    The People with Common Sense – These people are the majority of the workers, laborers and taxpayers of the ASD. They have grown tired by both of the other two sides. Most people in this group support consolidation. Most of these people are also supportive of the new location of the new school site. They realize it is time to move on from boundary lines and clinging on to school colors. With the closure of three high schools with low enrollments and housing the combined students are one roof, common sense says that expenses should be cut drastically. These cuts should include ASD staffing and teaching positions. Yes, we believe teaching positions should be cut drastically. There is no common sense and not cutting teaching positions. This is not time for the ASD to become creative in their classes offered or their scheduling just to maintain teaching positions. Staffing should be cut by at least 1/3 once this project is developed into a reality. Janitorial staffing should be cut. Cafeteria workers should be cut. Support services in the schools should be cut. If we are consolidating to cut costs and save money, then this is what should occur. The People with Common Sense are the ones who are worried by the two other factions who are out-of-control in their thinking and their managing. This group should have all the information to look over, review and dissect, if they choose, before one ounce of concrete is poured for the new building.

  • By dalereese67, June 10, 2012 @ 12:50 AM

    Tankster,

    I agree with your “people with common sense” portion of your post.

    The only thing I believe these people should consider is that they should be well aware they need to be patient so that they get the best information possible.

    Jorn,

    Nobody wants to pay the property taxes of the ASD now as it is. The taxes are high and good jobs in the area may as well be a myth. Young professionals are what AC needs, but you won’t see that anytime soon.

    Oh, and since you want to run the ASD like a business… what company takes away a steady revenue stream and replaces it with something “customers” or whoever else, can possibly avoid?

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