The State College Area School District is in the planning stages of renovating State College High School — a project that will require a public referendum and a possible tax increase, State College School Board member Jim Pawelczyk said.
Pawelcyzk said that the project will likely exceed the revenue generated by current legal caps on income taxes. State College residents will be able to vote on whether or not to fund the renovation through a possible income tax increase, Pawelczyk said.
This voting base also includes many Penn State students, who may be affected by this decision, Pawelczyk said.
“We’re going to ask Penn State students if they’re willing to help the next generation of Penn State students,” Pawelczyk said.
More than half of all State College High School graduates attend Penn State, Pawelczyk said.
The school board has been engaging the State College community about this project through the use of community forums, School Board President Penni Fishbaine said. The first forum, held last month, focused on guiding educational principles for the new high school project, Fishbaine said.
Some of these potential guiding educational principles include the use of technology in the classroom and flexibility in class structure, similar to a university learning environment, Pawelczyk said.
“Think about education today and think about the amount of work you can do sitting on the HUB lawn with a laptop,” Pawelczyk said. “It’s very different — much more individualized. This creates different kinds of space needs.”
Fishbaine said that the new school needs flexible space that allows students and teachers to work on projects in and out of the classroom.
Another main focus of the project is the physical state of the current high school buildings, Fishbaine said.
“I think there’re a lot of problems with the high school,” Fishbaine said. “The facility conditions are pretty poor. ”
She said that there are heating problems throughout both buildings, including uneven heating and a lack of air conditioning.
Peter Butler , vice president of student government and a senior at State College High, said that the building doesn’t effectively service the student body in terms of both of the size and condition of the building.
“I feel like we really do need a new building,” Butler said. “Renovation would make everything on the inside nice, but it would still be a 1950s building.”
Butler said the gas hoses and eye washing stations in the science labs don’t always work, the parking lot and stairwells flood and the roof leaks in the north building.
After the school district finishes the planning process, the issue will go to public referendum by 2014, Pawelczyk said.