Elk Lake proposes $17M budget

BY PAT FARNELLI

The Elk Lake School Board proposed a $17 million preliminary budget at its meeting Wednesday.

Superintendent William Bush said that the district will have to use approximately $300,000 from its reserves, funded by gas well revenues, toward the 2011-12 school year budget.

The district expects its gas well royalty checks to increase next year, as a new well has been added on a nearby property, which will bring in additional income. The district has one vertical and one horizontal well on the school property, and the Grosvenor well will be the second neighboring gas well for which the district will receive royalties.

In addition, $12,569 will be taken from the employee dental fund, which is the only effect to the school district’s savings accounts.

The Elk Lake School District will lose $1.006 million in funding due to the proposed state budget cuts.

Bush said that to see the state funding at a corresponding level, you would have to look back to the 2006-07.

In addition, there is a major increase in retirement costs, and fuel prices have increased, with heating oil up 90 cents a gallon for the last three months.

According to Board President Chuck Place, the cuts were made across the board in the district, with an effort not to eliminate programs.

The millage for Susquehanna County will be 35.830, which is the same as last year’s; Wyoming County’s millage will be 44.250, a slight break from the previous year.

Board member Eric Emmerich noted that the millage has remained virtually unchanged since the 2008-09 school year, “which is a wonderful thing.”

A number of resignations, mainly for retirement purposes, were received.

During the correspondence part of the board meeting, teachers Al Caines, Robert J. Swartz, and Valerie J. Robinson submitted requests for retirement, and their resignations were approved with regret.

Tyrone Hinkley, girls basketball coach, submitted a resignation because his job was taking him away from the area, according to board president, Chuck Place.

Security officer Clayton Markham and SCCTC paraeducator Rebecca Evans also submitted resignations. All of these were approved with regret.

Resident Craig Sprout asked the board, “How are you making out talking with Cabot about converting the school buildings to natural gas?”

Bush said, “We have discussed this with Cabot and UGI, but at this point there are not enough businesses that will use natural gas for us to convert. We may set up the buildings so we can easily hook into (natural gas utility line), once the possibility is there.”

Resident Jeannie Jane asked why the Career and Technology Center expansion project is discussed in the Elk Lake School part of the meeting, and if the Elk Lake district is funding the expansion.

Bush explained that the district is funding the expansion project, because the loan was borrowed by the Elk Lake District because it is a taxing entity, and SCCTC is not.

The roof of the pavilion is completed, and the concrete floor should soon be poured. Building trade students have been putting in much of the labor, which has made the project less expensive.

At the Skills USA competition, Ricky Guiton came in second in the state for impromptu speaking, and the carpentry/construction team came in third in the state, reported Alice Davis.

The career center hosted a Career Expo for the natural gas industry several weeks ago.

Sprout complained about the “Drug Free Campus” is not being enforced after school. He said he sees adults or possibly students smoking at games and after school activities. Bush promised to look into the situation.

A Head Start agreement was approved for the Head Start program located in the Elk Lake Elementary School building. The Head Start program has state funding in place, and is a beneficial program with proven results, according to Bush.

The Dual Enrollment Program, which provides a way for high school students to earn credits in cooperation with three area colleges, has been cut from the state budget, but will continued to be offered at some cost to the students. Previously, college credits could be earned at no charge, saving students thousands of dollars, Bush said.

Keystone College has responded by dropping their costs, and making the textbooks available at no charge.

The board approved a change in the amount of swim time available to the public in the summer months. The new schedule allows for more instructional and recreational time in the pool.

Pamela Staats said that the Life Skills Classes will be taking field trips to the circus and the Special Olympics.

The last day of school will be June 14, with early dismissal at 10:45 a.m. Graduation  will be held on June 11, with SCCTC graduation on June 9.

The Prom will be held on May 7, and there will be no school on May 30 for Memorial Day.