School board votes to construct new high school building


On April 9, 2018, the Altoona Area School Board voted to proceed with a project that involves constructing a new $87.3 million high school.  The new building will be on the current intramural field on Seventh Avenue while the other high school building will be renovated.

“Once school is out, they will start to do partial renovations in the A building of the high school. Nothing will be done with the B building.  The renovations to the A building will be done only in the summer months.   However, within the next couple of weeks, we’re going to see new things out on the IM field for the new building itself. So until that new building is built, students at the high school will continue on as is, and they will not see any difference until the entire project is completed,” principal of the junior high Lori Mangan said.

The main point of the project is to meet the instructional needs of the district’s schools. The project is still $633,000 under budget.

“We have reviewed all the numbers to make sure we can make the best decision possible,” school board president Dutch Brennan said.

The vote among the board was as close as a 5-4 vote. The members who voted for the construction of this new building were Brennan, Vice President Wayne Hippo, Kelly Irwin-Adams, Rick Hoover and Bill Ceglar.

“Ultimately in my view, this is a long-term win that was established in this community and shows  what education and this city is about,” Hippo said.

Board members who voted against moving forward with the project were Sharon Bream, Ron Johnston, Dave Francis and Ed Kreuz.

“We should be building within our means, and an $87.3 million building is not within our means,” Francis said.

Before the members cast their votes, many locals voiced their opinions to everyone who attended the meeting. Within the fourteen people who spoke only six favored the project.

Resident Brenda Dick spoke her views before the school board.

“I’m more worried about how my kids are going to get a job. You are not here to build new buildings. We are not New York City people,” Dick said.

Dick even walked out during the meeting while loudly voicing her opinions.

“When people see a big decision like this they take it personally. Therefore, I understand their reactions. I don’t know that you necessarily want to exhibit that type of passion in an open meeting, but I certainly understand folks being passionate about their beliefs,” principal of the junior high Lori Mangan said.

The plan is that the new building will be ready for students in the fall of 2020.

“I believe it is going to certainly be a benefit to the students, first and foremost, as well as teachers who are in the new building because they are going to have the ability to work with the students in a twenty first century facility,” Mangan said.

Sarah Weathersbee
The School Board listens to locals come up and speak their opinions on the new building project as well as other issues.