Centre Daily Times, May 22, 2013Looking Ahead to State High's Next Fifty YearsPenni Fishbaine, Board President, and Amber Concepcion, Board Vice-PresidentThe State College Area School District (SCASD) is planning a comprehensive update to our aging and failing high school buildings. Since last fall, we have been working with an architectural firm, Crabtree, Rohrbaugh, & Associates, and an educational planning firm, Brainspaces, Inc. Teachers, principals, staff, and students have been working together with these consultants to develop an educational model for the future. The updated high school will support collaborative learning communities - smaller environments with flexible learning spaces that maximize student-teacher relationships to boost student growth and achievement.Meanwhile, the Board of Directors gathered community thoughts at a series of public forums and community conversations held throughout the spring. Six building concepts are being considered, and it will soon be time to reduce this list.
Why not just make a decision and move forward? For the first time, district residents will vote on the funding for the high school project. To secure the funding, there will be a bond referendum question in an upcoming election, most likely in May 2014. Therefore, the building(s) must be both educationally sound and accepted by the majority of our community as a worthy investment.
Recently, the District hired Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS), a professional survey firm, to conduct a survey of District residents regarding priorities for our high school facilities. Using these results and other input, the Board will begin narrowing the field of concepts for the building project in late summer.
This survey will be mailed to nearly 7,000 addresses during the third week of May. Households receiving a survey have been randomly selected based on the mix of municipalities, genders, ages, and education that match the overall makeup of the district. Our consultants will then use well-established statistical techniques to balance responses so they are reflective of the entire community.
If the survey was open to “all-comers,” as has been done in previous district surveys, then sub-groups could be represented in different proportions than are found in the community. In the past, this has led to criticisms that survey results were biased. This more sophisticated approach should provide a more accurate picture of community support for the six concepts and the amount the community is willing to invest.
While you may or may not receive a survey as part of this random sample of the population, please be assured of two points: First, you have an equal chance to receive a survey as any other member of the community. Second, even if you don’t receive a survey, a household similar to your own probably did.
Whether or not you receive a survey in the mail, we will continue to solicit your thoughts regarding the project. We welcome your feedback through email to the School Board and comments at public forums and Board meetings. If you would like us to present State High building project information to a community group, please contact Julie Miller at 814-272-8600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also share your comments through an electronic dropbox and find more details on the project website (www.scasd.org/statehighfuture).Together, we can craft a solution that will serve us for decades. You can make a difference!