Faculty stipends a hot topic with school board

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Stipends for faculty members who are involved with special student projects and the amount they should be paid were discussed at a recent Punxsutawney Area School Board meeting.

Punxsutawney Superintendent Dr. Keith Wolfe said following the meeting that the stipend, which is a fixed sum paid periodically for services or to defray expenses, came about years ago when there was a play that was put on at Punxsutawney Area High School (PAHS), and then for multiple years it wasn’t put on.

Wolfe said that several years ago there was a group of students and teachers who decided they wanted to try and put the play on again.

"It is my understanding that this is how this whole fundraising process began, to put it back on again supported by fundraising," he said. "The stipend for the first year was $500 and then it was increased to $800 and the third year the advisors went to the students and requested $1,795 instead of $800."

Wolfe said since it is an activity, the students had to vote whether they would approve of the teachers receiving this much more money with the teachers standing there.

There was money built into the budget for the scripts, costumes and props, Wolfe said, adding that did not include the stipends.

"That's why I said, 'I think the district should cover the stipends and not have students do fundraising to pay teachers, which should be the responsibility of the district,'" he said.

Wolfe said the ticket sales over the past three years have always gone back to the student activity account to help support the stipends.

"If the district is going to take on paying the expenses for the play, the ticket sales should now go to the district," Wolfe said.

"Let's say the budget for the play is $7,000, and the take at the door is $4,000," he said. "That $4,000 could help defray the cost of the $7,000, or it goes into the student activity fund."

He said the student activity fund doesn't need to have $4,000 in it, so the money should go back into the budget for the play.

Wolfe said Dave London, PAHS principal,recommended raising the stipend comparing it to what the advisors receive for the annual Variety Show.

"At the Variety Show they have multiple people that are performing various tasks," Wolfe said.

"At the play, there are two people who have to perform all of those tasks, which is why he (London) was justifying to raise it to $1,250," he said.

Wolfe said there's also an argument that the play entails 20 to 50 students at the most.

The scripts and everything else is there, they are just rehearsing something that is already created, he said.

"For the Variety Show now you're dealing with 200 students rather than 20 to 30 for the play," Wolfe said, adding that every year the Variety Show starts from scratch.

He said the board at the meeting also brought up other scenarios of these other stipend positions that are receiving less than $800, such as the mock trial advisor.

Wolfe said that was the reason the board decided to leave the stipend at $800.

Also, at that meeting the board:

• Approved the resignation of Mary Biddix as a van monitor effective July 16.

• Approved a child rearing leave for Kristi Reesman through Jan. 11, 2013.

• Approved a child rearing leave for Jessica Stewart Jan. 2 through Jan. 16, 2013.

• Approved a sabbatical leave for Carole Mankovich for the 2012-13 school year.

• Approved Nicole Werwie and Angela Gotwald as elementary teachers for the 2012-13 school year.

• Approved Jennifer Kelly, Shannon White and Rebecca Peterson as special education teachers for the 2012-13 school year.

• Approved Laurie Barrett as a speech teacher for the 2012-13 school year.

• Approved Brad Constantino as 7th- and 8th- grade football coach.

• Approved Bridget Rheaume as an assistant girls soccer coach.

• Approved Jeremy Long and Mark Kephart as volunteer boys soccer coaches.