Bond hearing turns into debate on Page Middle School location

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Sep 05, 2012 - 02:08 PM

A discussion Tuesday night intended to consider authorizing the issuance of $6 million in general obligation school bonds for the construction of a new Page Middle School turned into an argument on why the school is being constructed on a new site adjacent to T.C. Walker Road and not on its former Route 17 site.

In the end, following a public hearing in the colonial courthouse where a majority of speakers and several members of the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors voiced their objection to a middle school being constructed on a new site, the supervisors voted unanimously to authorize the issuance of the interest-free bonds.

The $6 million worth of bonds, expected to be issued in October, will be included in the $18 million package the county board had already allocated for the school’s construction.

After an hour of back and forth between several board members and Superintendent of Schools Ben Kiser on why the insurance proceeds from Page, damaged by an April 2011 tornado, couldn’t have been used to rebuild the school on its original site, supervisors’ chair Carter Borden said, "We need to stay on the issue here … At this juncture, we’re going to have to build something somewhere."

During the public hearing, York district resident Phil Bazzani asked supervisors to stand back, take a deep breath, and take a hard look at whether the residents of Gloucester want to pay the taxes on a new school project. "You’re accountable to us taxpayers—not the school board," Bazzani told the supervisors. "It’s unbelievable."