I can respond to the questions raised by N.A.C. Sheppick in her Wednesday letter in the Observer-Reporter on why the McGuffey School District would be looking in cracks and crannies for extra pennies.
Several reasons come to mind. Remember that nearly 4,000 acres of land, which then-Commissioner Bracken Burns referred to as “pristine land” in Blaine and Buffalo townships, is now covered with gas wells producing funds for tax-exempt Pennsylvania state game lands and not looking so “pristine” anymore?� That land was taken off the tax rolls of the McGuffey School District through a land-swap deal voted for by Burns and fellow commissioners Diana Irey-Vaughan and John Bevec.
Also, when the school board was shutting down all the grade schools and moving the district children into Claysville Elementary School, they never closed Joe Walker Elementary School, which was part of the original plan. Therefore, they have the expense of staffing and operating that extra grade school.
Then, we had the “remodeling” at the high school. The one where, at that time, a task force appointed by state Rep. Leo Trich, along with engineers, concluded it should only cost the district around $11 million to complete. I believe when the elected “majority vote” school directors at that time were finished, they managed to spend nearly $35 million on bricks and not books.
I recall one lone school director, David Antion, repeatedly, at nearly every school board meeting, attempting to remind everyone that the coal reserves would deplete, which in turn would decrease future taxable income for the district.
I would have to surmise that poor decisions by the aforementioned county commissioners, much wasteful spending by the school board and the depletion of coal reserves has led to this debacle in the McGuffey School District. They should be held accountable to fix it without involving all county homeowners with an unnecessary property reassessment.
Rebecca L. Simpson