Board OKs waiving facility usage fee for Civil Service testing

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsutawney Area School Board will waive a fee for the local police department’s Civil Service testing, but some board members wonder if that will mean other groups looking for waivers on facility fees as well.

Monday, the agenda item — moved by board member Jack White, seconded by Penny Pifer — was already defeated with a 3-3 vote at a previous meeting. Because of the tie vote, the motion did not pass, but Monday, it passed with a 5-3 vote.

Board President Gary Conrad and board members White, Pifer, Lesa Conner and Jeff Martz voted in support of the motion, while board members Roberta Dinsmore, Penny Pearce and Bob Pascuzzo voted against it.

Board Vice-President Francis Molinaro was excused from the meeting.
Conrad said he wanted the board to vote on the issue again, and that waiving the fee would be a “community goodwill” gesture toward Punxsutawney Borough Police.

Dinsmore said Civil Service testing is a line-item in the borough’s budget, and those who take it must pay a fee. Conrad agreed, but in this case, the district would waive the fee for using schools as testing sites.

Pifer said she is grateful for the police’s service and protection, but asked where the district should “draw the line” on requests for waivers on facility usage fees.

“What if the fire company wants to use the buildings? Or the hospital?” she said, adding that the board recently reexamined and revamped its facility use fee scale a few months ago.

Pascuzzo also lauded the police, but said waiving the fee puts the board back into a position where it was before it revamped the facility use fee policy.

Also Monday, the board asked White to further study his proposals for energy savings — such as turning off building lights at night, not using as many parking lot lights at night, and adjusting the temperature of the pool water and the natatorium room temperature at Punxsutawney Area Middle School.

Conrad said he views illuminated lights in the building and parking lots at night as a security issue.

Also, Barb Postlewaite, who spoke to the board as a representative of the Punxsutawney Area Coalition Against Drugs, said according to her husband — who is an electrician — once one leaves the lights on, it’s cheaper to leave them on.

Conrad suggested White meet with Phil Heitzenrater, maintenance supervisor, about some of his ideas.

Also Monday, the board approved the following hires:
• Karen B. Young, elementary teacher, at bachelor’s Step 1.
• Deidre Martino, special education teacher, at bachelor’ Step 1.
• Melinda Burton, business teacher, at master’s Step 3.5.
• Erin Erickson, Spanish teacher, at master’s Step 4.5.

Also, the board:
• Approved Don Gill (social studies) and Barb Giavedoni (math) as heads for their respective departments with a 7-1 vote, with Pifer dissenting.

• Approved a new five-year agreement between the district and Indiana University of Pennsylvania for field experiences, such as pre-clinical practicum and student teaching.
Superintendent Dr. Keith Wolfe said last year was the final year of the last agreement, and this new pact simply renews it for another five years.

• Approved an agreement between the district and JKM Training Inc. for refresher training in Safe Crisis Management for select district teachers and administrators at a cost not to exceed $5,300 (ACCESS funds).