High School Renovation & The Great Recession

Great-RecessionI wanted to highlight some important dates regarding the school board’s decision to proceed with the High School renovation and expansion.

What did the school district know, or should have known, when voting to begin the Octorara High School project? When the economic environment changed, why didn’t the school district adapt and change their plans?


  • Foreclosure epidemic begins in late 2006


  • Start of the liquidity (credit) crisis.
  • Lenders began foreclosure proceedings on nearly 1.3 million properties, a 79% increase over 2006

August 2007

  • Aug 7th: Federal Reserve pumps about $24 billion into the U.S. banking system to keep the short-term interest rate at the 5.25% target
  • Aug 15th: 118 citizens confront school board about ever increasing taxes due to construction projects

December 2007

  • School Board authorizes Construction Documents and approves Design Development documents
  • U.S. enters recession

August 2008

  • 9.2% of all U.S. mortgages outstanding were either delinquent or in foreclosure
  • Aug 18th: Lifelong resident informs board continued tax hikes will force her from home

September 2008

  • Average U.S. housing prices had declined by over 20% from their mid-2006 peak
  • U.S. unemployment rate rises to 6%, its highest since 2003
  • Sept 7th: U.S. Treasury takes over Fannie Mac and Freddy Mac
  • Sept 15th: Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy protection
  • Sept 15th: School board announces special session to award contract and give notice to proceed with construction
  • Sept 16th: AIG received an $85 billion credit facility from U.S. Federal Reserve
  • Sept 22nd: School board holds special session to award contract and give notice to proceed, a month ahead of schedule, and without receipt and approval of PLANCON F & G from the PA Department of Education
    • Mr. Hume indicated that residents have been coming to board meetings indicating that they cannot afford this project.
    • Mr. Stoltzfus indicated that the submission of this document is required prior to any work being done and that the approval of this form by the Department of Education is required before any contracts are signed.

October 2008

  • Stock Market Crash: During the first eight trading days of October 2008, the Dow dropped a total of 2,399.47 points or 22.11%.
  • Oct 1: Bush signs a $700 Billion bailout called TARP to buy non-liquid assets from banks
  • Oct 20th: School board acknowledge receipt and approval of PLANCON Part F: “Construction Documents” and PLANCON Part G: “Project Accounting Based on Bids” from the PA Department of Education, having awarded the contract and give notice to proceed ahead of schedule.

December 2009

  • The official U.S. employment rate was 9.9%, higher if you include those who stopped looking for work
  • Scheduled Completion of Phase 1 of the High School Project

August 2011

  • The official U.S. unemployment rate was 9.0%, higher if you include those who stopped looking for work
  • Scheduled Completion of High School Renovations
  • Aug 5th: S&P Downgrades U.S. credit rating from “AAA” to “AA+” with a negative outlook

We know that there was a lot more going on from the start of the process to the end. I selected dates to show that as the world was collapsing, the school board was pushing forward with plans. They can point to the original predictions, but the timeline shows they had the information to make better choices.

We still have no clue why the special board meeting was held to award the contract and give notice to proceed ahead of schedule. It made no difference to the project. They could not sign contracts or start construction without the proper paperwork from the PA Department of Education. We can only presume it was to get ahead of taxpayers who could panic with rising taxs during the crashing of the economy.


4 thoughts on “High School Renovation & The Great Recession

  1. Thanks Tim for all your hard work.

    This timeline is pretty damning in my opinion. They had ample opportunity to pull back on the reins due to prevailing conditions and yet they did not. They cannot use the excuse that they were caught off guard.

  2. I would also like to add that Dr. Newcome built new building before repairing the old ones first, and that is disturbing considering they had a mold problem. I spoke with a former student, and they informed me that the problem still exists, and the school has not addressed the issue yet. It is simply amazing! We have teachers getting a huge paycheck with terrible performance, and a school board that does not care about the students.

    Parkesburg today news has terrible coverage in my opinion, and needs to be shut down for misleading the people with facts about the school, and the borough. I personally think we need a good, honest, reliable source of information in town, but all we get is a biased ranting page run by a guy who likes drama in my opinion. Tim has a great page full of facts with truth behind them, so please stay on this blog if you want answers. If you want to rant about stuff go to the little blog on Parkesburg today.

    • We all know Dr. Newcome is trying to build a college campus looking school district, but we can’t afford it. Not sure about the mold problem, but it makes sense to fix the existing before building new. Nobody reads the parkesburg today news anymore….Like you said it sounds like ranting and raving without solutions.

  3. I found an example of why David Jones doesn’t make the grade. Here is his comment on the ranting blog created by Ken: I would like you all to know that Ken and David are very close friends as well.

    “David Jones
    March 9, 2013 at 9:03 AM
    “This is very helpful Ken. Everyone that knows me knows I am not a fan of Charters, but realistically there are here to stay. If that’s the case ( why not encourage parents to shift to charters and our own cyber? ) Significant savings could be achieved, particularly with the cyber initiative. By working with parents to encourage more of a shift we could reduce payroll significantly over time and do so by not replacing teachers as they leave. It would take a lot of work, but a planned and coordinate shift over time could be a real cost saver. ( I think the administration should be applauded for working significantly under budget last year and so far this year. ) The one thing that scares me is the health benefit risks. All you need are 2-3 long term major illnesses and this budget can blow up!” ”

    (1) He thinks cyber is an option? How can you do that if the parents are working all the time, and won’t be home to actually make sure the kids are doing the school work?
    Answer is they can’t because they are working 2 jobs to make up for the high taxes, and can not afford to stay home and watch the students.

    (2) He claims the administration has worked within the budget?
    Answer is no they have not because the taxes went up AGAIN!

    This is why we encourage people not to read the false propaganda comments on the little ranting blog because the people are out of touch with the people and out of touch with actual true facts. The best way to prove my point is read the comments and remember that most of the people on that blog are former members of the school board (that means they have friends on the board) or they were on the borough council in Parkesburg(that means they may not be the most honest person to agree with in my opinion)

    The solution is reduce the salaries of all the staff including Dr. Newcomes because they are all giving us a poor performance. If I hire a person to fix a leaking pipe in my house that is causing damage to the floor and they don’t fix the leak I will fire that person for giving a poor performance. Teachers get paid to teach students end of story. They failed the students, and the parents. Cutting their salary is better than termination in my opinion.

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