Archive for March, 2014

postheadericon Jim Vogel from PDE responds to Taxpayers



Please see my responses below (in bold).




James E. Vogel | Architectural Consultant

Pennsylvania Department of Education | Bureau of Budget & Fiscal Management

333 Market Street | HarrisburgPA17126

Phone: 717.787.5993 | Fax: 717.705.6805


From: David Bradley []
Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 9:57 AM
To: Vogel, James
Cc: Frank Tamburri
Subject: RE: Lehighton School District (District Wide Facility Study)


Thank you for your review.  


As of last month the EI, Cleaver alliance started pitching a whole new plan.  


Their latest plan is a $30,000,000 elementary center concept. Putting grades K-5 in a single building, closing all the existing elementary schools.

I didn’t see that one as a study options, did you?


JV Response:  No, I don’t see this option considered/evaluated in the January 2011 Study.


Since your cursory review doesn’t look at the accuracy of the study, whose would?  


JV Response:  This is a matter between the School Board and the design professional who prepared this planning document for the School Board.


My primary points are:

1) The study was created with a bias towards construction, including the double adding or options.  

2) The current figures filed on the PlanCon A B don’t match the board’s authorization of “required repairs Status quo option”.


JV Response:  PDE does not have a requirement that these figures match.


On another note, who are the state level governs the local district’s fund balance situation?  They mentioned at a board meeting that our district fund is growing to big for the ‘state’.  This was used as motivating factor to immediately authorize a construction project.


JV Response:  Not sure, perhaps the PA Department of the Auditor General?



David Bradley

postheadericon It would take 40+ years to break even on the Elementary Center

The district predicts a FUTURE saving of $800,000/yr, district savings. But wait, what do we have to SPEND to SAVE $800,000/yr.

These savings are on the backs of teacher attrition, layoffs called consolidation/reduction in cafeteria staff, and layoffs or consolidations/reductions in nursing staff. In addition, they calculated in utility savings but then added the higher cost to bus students to a central location and some other incidentals.

The simple math, the $30,000,000 Elementary Center + interest of $8,000,000 on the bond puts the number at spending $38,000,000 in taxpayer costs.
Divided the $38M by the final expected yearly savings of $800,000 and you get 47.5 years. And that is a break even, assuming not other repairs will be needed in the 47 years. The Architect said they design the building for a 20 year life or renovation cycle. This is just another reason to terminate this Architect.

To be fair, and generous, the 47.5 years assumes the attrition as instant. Really it doesn’t set in to till teachers start to retire.
Even if you used the most generous savings estimation of $1,000,000 and make the attricion instant, you are at a break even of 38 years.

This taxing school board has a captured customer, us. SO if you are like me, and rooted in this community we have one choice. Speak up!
The real answer is to hold the School Board accountable for their decisions by showing them the impact of their decisions.

This analysis is just one more way to realize this decision is economically UNSOUND.
The student data shows this decisionto expand is UN JUSTIFIED.
The architechs repair estimates have been proven FLAWED.
As the political machine marches on, is crushes SENIORS.
I think the board is smart, so why the PUSH to CRUSH?

Ask your board members this question “Why do you think building the Elementary Center is a good idea?”
We’d love to hear an intelligent answer.

postheadericon Taxpayers to collect signature votes

A simple two column survey has been created.
I support fixing the existing schools using asset management and no debt on the one side and
I support building an Elementary Center closing all the existing local elementary schools on the other.

Please sign and distribute the survey.

A copy is available here:
Taxpayer Survey

postheadericon Dollars and Sense

A one page review of what the TAX and BUILD plan looks like to a businessman.

Dollars and sense

Here is what the TAX and BUILD plan looks like to a businessman

BOND payments to BUILD with no cost overruns, no traffic study, no wetlands issues
$1,907,604*/ $360,410 per mil = 5.29 Mils
                      5.29 Mils = a TAX INCREASE OF                        11.25 %
Old debt from the High School Construction
$1,805,000* / $360,410 per mil = 5.00 Mils
                      5.00 Mils = using TAX SURPLUS                         10.6 %
Current over taxation
$1,981,071*/ $360,410 per mil = 5.49 Mils                            11.68 %

TOTAL TAX and BUILD INCREASES taxes       TOTAL      33.52 %

There is plenty of areas to save. Interest, architect, site studies, land development.
Fix the schools we have with ASSET MANAGEMENT, and the district saves big.
The $52,000,000 number is architect smoke, Administration mirrors and a blinded board.
Asset Management clears the smoke, the mirrors and removes the blindfolds.
With Asset management you treat the schools with value and respect.


*30,000,000 School @ 2.5% interest = $1,907, 604/Year and $8,153,008 in Interest
*Current BOND rate 2.95% scheduled payments = 1,805,000 2014/15 & $1,895,000 2015/16
*Current Millage rate 47+ mils and produced a BUDGET SURPLUS of $13,867,503/ ~7 years
$13,867,503 / 7 = 1,981,071 / Year over taxation

Once the bond for the High School is paid in 2015 the district will have a
YEARLY BUDGET SURPLUS of $1,895,000 – No debt PLUS an
EXISTING $13,867,503 BUDGET SUPLUS – from over taxation

postheadericon Follow the intent of the LAW – Referendum!

postheadericon Lehighton survey goes viral

Send it to all your friends from around the world… DUMP this TAXATION TEA in the boston harbor. I want to see CLEAVER get 50,000 responses so we can move on to a productive REFERENDUM.

postheadericon TAXATION without REPRESENTATION

Back in the day them waz fightin words. Today people use lawyers, websites and peer pressure from neighbors.

I suggest we all mention to the board members that they take the high road for once, offer a referendum to the town. If thier argument is so strong, and we haven’t heard a strong one yet, so be it. I agree with Brenda, referendum and we all accept the outcome.

postheadericon Castro consults Cleaver

Right from Castro’s to Cleaver ears the board endorses through LACK of action a survey riddled in controversy

The survey has been shown for the SHAM it is.

Ballot stuffing is ok!

Cleaver to personally review results.

$30,000,000 decision relagated to students, out of district teachers and SURVEY MONKEY.

A public coin flip would be more accurate. This is a private coin flip, a two sided coin and BOARD continues to let Cleaver and the architect to run the show.

postheadericon How does one convince the board to abandon this survey

Referendum time!!!!!

postheadericon The actions and results

Board action – Board told Admin to investigate a building project ~2008
The thinking was growth is good, it will bring industry back.
Actions- The board hires Kraky with visions of grandeur
Actions- The board hires EI Associates without a bid or vetting
Actions- The feasibility study is created, bias on tax & build
Results- A stacked task force is created justifying the problem
Results – A flawed feasibility study w/hyper exaggeration
Results – We need to tax and build a HS, a MS, A Center REALITY – After Ripkey HS;’90-’00 district vacancy went UP 59%
REALITY – Kraky told state a tax increase of 8%
REALITY – Gloria Bowman was in this 8% report

Board actions – (Slumlord) Raise taxes, don’t use them for fixing schools
The thinking was “why spend money on a school we’re closing”
Actions – School asset management investments were curtailed
Results _ Dilapidated schools – justifies building project
Results – Look good getting to spend $30M and get state money
Reality – State is broke, the $30M is the tip of iceberg.
Reality – Interest payments will exceed the cost of a stadium.

Board action – (Power Hungry) Board circumvents PA state Law with loophole
They were probably told the refi was a good financial choice.
They probably thought it is a good idea to keep the power locally
They probably thought this will protect future boards
Probably thought no board would ever do evil with this power.
Action – They signed a note they didn’t read
Results – District debt kicked the ACT25 can down the road
Reality – This note kept the ACT25 loophole open
Reality – This note was written to maintain power as the note’s conditions on the first pages dictate the repay terms.

Board action – (EI Dupes Cleaver, Parrot Clvr unknowing dupes board) PlanCon
The board was told the door was closing so you better apply
Action – The board called a SPECIAL meeting to approve A & B
Results – Board feels this kept their options open, bravo!
Reality – This allowed EI to circumvent the referendum process
Reality – This board action circumvents ACT 25
Reality – The EI completed the papers (Cleaver & BM didn’t read) Reality – If board admits it, the Plancon are out, moratorium lost

Board Action – Trane company introduces a piece of the JEriCHo plan
The board was provided a glimpse there is other options
Action – A presentation is provided to the public and board
Results – Administration starts to scramble
Publish surveys, meetings, discredit the ESCO
Results – Discussion within the community heightens, 50 @ tax mtg
Reality – documents facts shares information
Reality – Info is now out on debt, enrollment, vacancy, taxes etc.
Reality – Base has enough info to form opinion/judge board action
Reality- This is the chance to JUMP OFF the EI team, appear smart
Reality- Anyone left on the EI, administration team after today will probably be a political pariah.