State College

Community weighs in on State College High School project

The day after a 41/2 hour State College Area school board meeting focusing heavily on the high school project, district officials got to hear from the community on the issue.

More than 35 residents and district officials filed into the high school South auditorium Tuesday night for a brief update and question and feedback session.

The presentation focused on the two remaining concepts for a building design and the process of choosing a final one at the Sept. 9 board meeting. There was also a short preview of the presentation on the education model, which will be brought out in detail at the Aug. 26 board meeting.

While both of the remaining choices are on Westerly Parkway, Concept D would locate all core academic classes on the south side with additions and renovations to the building and using the North Building for the gym and natatorium. And Concept B would locate core academics on both sides with an enclosed bridge connecting the two.

Resident Margaret Higgins said she would put her support behind Concept D because it doesn’t have as much duplication of services as Concept B. She said there are rooms such as libraries and auditoriums in both buildings and having two buildings could add to operational costs.

“I just see in the long term that we’re going to spend more on two buildings than one,” she said.

Another supporter of Concept D, Scott Wing, said it’s wiser to keep the core academic classes on the south side, but said he would like to see the new addition to the building closer to Westerly Parkway.

Wing, a member of the district’s Community Engagement Action Team, said putting that new portion closer to the street shows off the new building and leaves some room for expansion in the future.

He added that the board and architects should be primarily focused on long-term goals. He doesn’t want short-term problems like disruption of students during construction to weigh heavily in final decisions because he said after the construction no one will remember those issues.

“Sometimes little short-term concerns can drive major design decisions,” he said.

But not everyone in attendance was as sure of Concept D.

Tom Daubert, a State College Borough Councilman, said he has never heard complaints from students about crossing the street, and he would like the district to look closer into the possible strain that could be put on the school if all the students were in one building.