School board continues to seek savings measures

PUNXSUTAWNEY — As it continues work on the 2012-13 budget, members of the Punxsutawney Area School Board continue to brain-storm ways to cut expenditures and increase revenue, and a historically-unpopular idea was again raised Monday.

Board member Jack White again suggested consolidating elementary schools, saying there is plenty of space to house what he referred to as 190 students, even after closing a building or two.

Board Vice-President Francis Molinaro said he wasn’t opposed to closing schools, but that the board would have to look at staff, which creates most of the expenditures.

“We should have a plan; we should know ahead of time,” he said
Superintendent Dr. Keith Wolfe said at this point, there’s not enough time to plan a school closing for the 2012-13 school year, but the administration can continue to look at numbers and kindergarten enrollments for the next year.

Board member Bob Pascuzzo suggested creating criteria that would help identify schools that should remain open, as they pertain to transportation and the structural integrity of the building.

Wolfe also noted that as per the state, funding has been cut for any new capital projects, and any district that has not reached Plan Con H — a certain step in the building process — will nor receive any more funding for a project.

Other ideas from board members included:

• Roberta Dinsmore suggested reducing the amount of paper in the

• Lesa Conner suggested exploring the idea of every-other-day kindergarten. She also touched upon increasing costs of admission for athletic events; cutting free admission to athletic events; and perhaps eliminating a few sports.

• Melissa Snyder suggested soliciting cost-savings ideas from all district employees, not just from teachers or department heads, for example.

At the end of the discussion, however, Molinaro pointed out, “This budget won’t be a reality unless we have a contract.”
Also Monday:

• Responding to questions from the board, PAHS Principal David London explained why activity period is no longer held at the beginning of the day.

The No. 1 reason: “To place more emphasis on being on time for school and cutting down on tardiness.”

London said activity period — a long-standing tradition at PAHS — was moved after third period between 2000 and 2003. Also, students who arrive late and miss parts of first period — as opposed to missing part of activity period — could face an academic penalty.

Activity period — a time when students can work, study or take part in a club activity — now take part after third period. It offers a mid-day break for students who may then go to lunch or attend another class or two and then attend C Lunch, London said.

An idea to move activity period to the end of the day — when the eighth-graders first came to PAHS — proved to be unpopular, he said, because students had already put in a full day at school and perhaps didn’t complete much work during the late activity period.