MIFFLINTOWN - After review and reorganization of the school district's budget from past years, the Juniata County School Board of Directors has reached its goal of a balanced budget for the 2013-2014 school year.
The board approved a budget in the amount of $32,041,445 during a meeting held Tuesday evening at Fermanagh-Mifflintown Elementary School. They also approved the final adoption of the real estate tax rate at 57.459 mills, or no tax increase for the upcoming budget year.
The board also approved an activity fee of $100 per student per activity for the 2013-2014 school year. This refers to athletes and band only.
Also during the meeting, Superintendent Richard Musselman said the district has been re-evaluating current bus routes for ways to increase the efficiency at which buses operate. He said the district looks to reduce transportation routes by 700 to 800 miles per day and 11 routes for the upcoming school year.
Representatives from Rohrer busing and transportation company said routes will be updated and finalized with kindergarten registration and graduation numbers. They said no existing bus stops have been eliminated at this time.
In other new business, Musselman said he had a meeting Wednesday with Reynolds Construction, which is starting its investigating audit. The school board approved an agreement last month to allow Reynolds to develop a scope of work and project oversight for possible renovations to East Juniata High School, monitoring systems at all schools and upgrades at Tuscarora Junior High School and Juniata High School.
During the meeting, the board approved a motion to allow workers to drill geothermal test wells at EJHS to further assess the scope of work needed there.
In the meantime, Musselman recommended that the board consider long-term plans for the district. He suggested seeking information about the possibility for consolidating EJHS into one kindergarten through 12th grade school. While district buildings have been well maintained, he said, combining schools could reduce the need for ongoing renovations at all buildings and improve academics and safety.
At this time, Musselman said there is significant inequity in the number of students each classroom holds. He said some classrooms include 30 students, while others include 17 students. Consolidating the buildings would offer the opportunity to pull all students together and more evenly balance classroom numbers.
Combining schools would also reduce equipment costs as upgrades are needed, he said. There are currently four full-service kitchens operating in just one end of the county, he said.
Finally, Musselman pointed out the potential for safety upgrades. He suggested the possibility of a security vestibule in the school to contain visitors.
"We don't have any of that at any of our schools," he said. "Once you buzz in, you're into our schools."
In the midst of Reynolds' audit, Musselman asked the board to keep long-term investment in mind. He said consolidating schools is a significant upfront cost, but may save the district money in the long term. He asked the board to consider approving a request for proposal for a small group of architects to conduct an analysis on district schools.
"I'm not looking at doing a feasibility study," he said, explaining that he made the recommendation with the possibility for addressing multiple needs at multiple schools at one time.
A motion to put out a request for proposal failed with a close vote.
Also during the meeting, the board heard a presentation from solicitor Dr. Scott Etter regarding the possible sale of Susquehanna Elementary School. He said the building could be offered via sealed bids, negotiated private sale, sale to the municipality or sale to a 501c3 organization. The board approved a motion to have administration and the solicitor move forward to solicit bids for the building.
Also during the meeting, the board:
Approved an agreement with NHS Pennsylvania to provide Extended School Year educational programming for a JCSD student at a cost of $2,090.70.
Approved Articles of Agreement for the Organization and Operation of the Mifflin-Juniata Career and Technology Center, between the Mifflin County School District and the JCSD, effective July 1 through June 30, 2018. The approval included an amendment for clarification on item four of the agreement at the recommendation of Glenda Leister, board member.
Approved a contract with Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11 for the provision of IMS Media Library Services for the 2013-2014 school year, at a cost of $11,350.
Approved the purchase of a Kubota 60" zero turn mower with standard equipment for Lack-Tuscarora Elementary School. The mower will be from Dotterer Equipment Inc., at a cost of $10,727.
Approved awarding the bid for a Hobart dishwasher to be installed at Juniata High School to Singer Equipment Company at a cost of $24,832.86.
Approved awarding the bid for the construction of a handicapped-accessible restroom at EJHS to CB Construction Services at a cost of $22,890.
Approved financial reports for May 2013.
Approved a listing of bills for payment.
Approved the Mifflin-Juniata Career and Technology Center genderal fund budget for 2013-2014.
Approved the Final Budget for General Fund Approval Resolution, the 2013 Annual Tax Levy Resolution and the 2013 Homestead and Farmstead Exclusion Resolution.
Approved the first reading of revised JCSD transportation policy 810.
Approved participation in a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters to provide mentoring programs to students in Juniata County.
Approved the employment of the following individuals for the JCSD 2013 Extended School Year program: Jill Condo and Kayla Ritter, teachers; Katherine Potvin, speech therapist; Tasia Mitchell, vision support; Deb Genet, hearing support; Carrie Baumgardner, Jill Baumgardner, Rebecca Ehrenzeller, Felicia Pannebacker and Tavie Zerbe, paraprofessionals.
Teacher Kelly Plank and Timbra Plesce and paraprofessionals Brandy Barner, Caroline Eberle and Teresa Nearhood, who were previously approved for the ESY program, have declined positions for the summer.
Approved the reduction of paraprofessional employment schedules to less than 30 hours per week, effective with the 2013-2014 school year. The reduction in hours will not apply to paraprofessionals who are receiving district-provided health care coverage.
Approved establishing four paraprofessional positions, based on student enrollment and in order to fulfill IEP requirements, effective with the 2013-2014 school year and further approved modifying a Mountain View Elementary School position at 10.5 hours per week to 27.5 hours per week.
Approved the transfer of Ashley L. Hack from a part-time Title I teaching position to a full-time Lack-Tuscarora Elementary School kindergarten position, effective Aug. 21.
Approved Margaret A. Hackenberger as a Fermanagh-Mifflintown Elementary School ESL teacher. She replaces Lynette Miller, who has transferred to a first grade classroom.
Approved Jennifer L. Shay as a half-time elementary art teacher. She replaces Garry Price, who has resigned.
Approved Carissa M. Bowersox as a school psychologist, filling a vacancy left by the resignation of Emily Stine.
Authorized administration to fill any vacancies that need to be filled prior to August 15, 2013, with names of individuals to be approved at that meeting.
Approved the recognition of the achievement of tenure for the following individuals who have received satisfactory evaluations after three years as temporary professional employees; Rodney D. Feltman, Jessica E. Morgan and Garry M. Price.
Approved 2 percent salary increases for non-instructional support staff members Donna M. Beitz, Polly S. Digon, Melissa J. Graybill, Susan M. Hackenberger, Lourie A. Kilmer and Jonathan M. Stouffer.
Approved paying Dr. Teresa Kay Shehan Hughes $70 per day for a maximum of 50 accumulated days of sick leave, as of Aug. 5.
Approved establishing a special education/hearing impaired teaching position, effective Aug. 21.
Approved Cortney C. Wright as an EJHS vocational-agriculture teacher. She replaces Susan Glick, who has transferred to a Fermanagh-Mifflintown Elementary School position.
Accepted the resignation of EJHS secretary Dianne R. Kerstetter.
Rejected a request from the TJHS Cheerleading Booster Club to establish a Facebook page for the purpose of conveying information to students and parents.