Residents weigh in against new Dover Area High School
At Thursday's school board meeting, community members in the Dover Area School District said that they were not in support of demolishing the intermediate school to build a new high school.
The district has been discussing the possibility of building the new school, stating that the intermediate school is out of date and it is having issues with overcrowding. Currently, the district is exploring the demolition of the intermediate school, where a new high school would be built. Then the intermediate school would be moved to the current high school.
Members of the community are concerned about the debt that might be incurred for the project, which has not been fully approved by the board yet. At its July 19 meeting, the school board approved the formation of a design team and an advertisement for architects. Superintendent Kenneth Cherry said in an earlier interview that these steps are necessary before truly understanding how much the potential construction could cost.
No matter what, Cherry said, the goal will be to not raise taxes in the district to pay for the project.
Residents: Not everyone is convinced of this, though.
District resident John Peters, who also spoke at the July 19 meeting, said he was concerned about the debt the project could mean for the district, particularly if renovations are necessary for the current high school as well. He cited rough numbers that were given over a year ago that estimated the project could cost up to $65 million and would raise taxes for seven consecutive years.
"Every day that goes by it just seems like things move along, and I worry that eventually this will be be too far along to stop," Peters said. "Basically I'm opposed to the huge debt that's going to be incurred."
At the end of the meeting, board member Stephen Cook said that the $65 million estimate was a worst-case scenario number and is not set in stone. He also pointed out that over seven years, taxes would be raised a total amount of $200 per resident.
"In my opinion, if I had to spend $200 over the course of seven years, in my opinion that's a good investment," Cook said of the proposed plans.
Another community member, Chris Moul, reminded the school board that it's not the building that matters, but the people who are in it.
"I've lived all over the country, and new schools don't make a difference," Moul said. "The things that have influenced my life are the people, not the property. My feeling is if we have to spend some money in modernization that makes sense, but putting one school in a landfill and putting another right where it is doesn’t make sense to me."
Exploring: Nathan Eifert, the school board president, reminded everyone at the meeting that the possibility of a new school is just something the district is exploring. Currently, nothing has been approved except the formation of a design team and gathering resumes for architects to come up with a possible design and, eventually, a price to present to the board.
Eifert also encouraged anyone with questions about the process or the intermediate building to attend the facilities management committee meetings. The next one will occur at 6 p.m. Sept. 22 at 101 Edgeway Road.
Board member Charles DeLauter spoke at the end of the meeting, stating that he personally believes looking into building a new school is the way to go right now. He said that while teachers are a No. 1 priority for the district, buildings need to be able to support their education initiatives as well.
"I agree with you that our teachers are our No. 1 priority," he said. "But at the same time I think we also need to make sure our buildings are able to support that mission to create a world-class education. ... Our students deserve and our teachers deserve a building that is able to support a really good education."