Board rep: IU will see budget shortfall

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The budget for Riverview Intermediate Unit No. 6 (RIU6) will be short about $177,000, according to the Punxsutawney Area School Board’s representative to the consortium, on account of Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget.

“Right now, with the budget that’s been proposed, they are not getting any money,” Punxsy school board member Penny Pifer told the board last week. “They will be short, about $177,000.”

RIU6, of Clarion, is an education service agency supporting the needs of the public and non-public schools in Clarion, Jefferson, Forest and Venango counties and parts of Armstrong, Butler, Clearfield, Crawford and Indiana counties. It is one of 29 intermediate units across the state providing support programs, training and therapy services in response to local needs.

“Basically, there are 17 districts in the IU, then each district has an annual contrbution,” Superintendent Dr. Keith Wolfe said. “Some school districts use the IU to provide all special education services, and a lot schools have teachers themselves. It depends on the size of the district and what is most economically-feasible.”

The Punxsy district’s contribution to RIU6 is about $32,000, Pifer said, second only to the DuBois Area School District.

If the Punxsy district opts for service offered by RIU6, it must pay for that service above its regular contribution.

“If we participate in some of those programs they’re offering, we would be billed additionally,” Wolfe said. “You can pick and choose what you need.”

Pifer said RIU6 has already implemented several cost-saving measures, such as cutting funds for water coolers, light bulbs and color copies. It is also seeking to trim travel costs by using video conferencing. Likewise, some staff poised for retirement may not be replaced.

Previously, board member Jack White had suggested terminating the district’s association with RIU6, but Wolfe said the Punxsy district uses IU6 for “tons of training. The cost savings is a big part of being part of that consortium.”

Also during the board’s April 11 meeting, the board:

• Approved First Commonwealth Bank as the district’s financial institution of record.

• Recognized Kevin Hughes, Lucas Burke, Joe Long, Kendall Neal and Dane Baker — the high school’s Scholastics Challenge Team — for their first-place performance at the 24th annual DuBois Area Senior Scholastic Challenge March 9.

Advisor Rose Graffius said the team has entered the event every year, but took first for the first time this year.

“Our name was not on the trophy previously,” she said.

• Approved expelling two students for the rest of the school year.

• Modified the 2010-11 school calendar designating graduation as Tuesday, May 31, with the last K-11 student day as Thursday, June 2. The last day for teachers will be Friday, June 3.

• Barb Postlewaite, representing the Punxsutawney Area Coalition Against Drugs, said the group is hosting “Splash into Summer” from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at the George C. Brown Community Pool at Harmon Field.

The event, open to all students in grades K-7, will include free admission to the pool, games and prizes.

The coalition is teaming with the Jefferson County chapter of Pennsylvania School Retirees to host this drug-free community event.
Board member Bob Pascuzzo was excused from the meeting.