Elk Lake hopes for gas utility line

BY PAT FARNELLI

The Elk Lake School District is counting on the Leatherstocking gas utility line, which recently received approval from the Public Utility Commission, to solve its energy woes, according to a statement made by its superintendent to the school board last Thursday.

In September, during apresentation on the district’s energy conservation program, Tim Woolcock asked Superintendent William Bush for an update and assessment on the antiquated boilers heating the high school.

Bush said that as part of the high school roof project, he recently participated in a walk through with the architect.

“Back in 2008, I had a conversation with Mr. Kropcko about that heating system,” Bush said.

He received a report in January of 2009, in which Kropko estimated the cost of converting the high school boilers at $2.688 million.

“We didn’t go any further with it because of the high cost,” Bush said. He added that such a conversion now would add approximately $350,000 to the costs, bringing the figure close to $3 million.

“The solution would be converting to gas,” Bush said. “There is a 33-40 percent savings possible.”

At this point, Leatherstocking is coming only as far south as Montrose Borough, Bush said.

He has been discussing the possibility of adding the Elk Lake campus to Leatherstocking’s natural gas utility line.

Bush said he had similar conversations with UGI Energy when they were proposing to provide service to parts of Susquehanna County.

“We could then convert to rooftop units instead of boilers,” Bush said.

School board president Chuck Place agreed with Bush that this was a good plan.

High School Principal Ken Cuomo reported that a representative of the senior high student council had approached him, offering to have student council members work with elementary students during recess.

The goal would be to get all children involved in recess activities, while mentoring them in ways to get along together, prevent bullying, and do some positive role modeling, Cuomo said.

Bush announced some legislative alerts during the meeting noting that a Pennsylvania School Boards Association charter school bill may move soon.

According to Bush, the state Department of Education’s  report on AYP status for charter schools “used artificially inflated scores.”

Bush said that the secretary for the Department of Education has stated that public schools’ PSSA scores are down because of widespread cheating

“The PDE has stated repeatedly that they are out to do everything they can for Charter schools,” Bush said. “They are at odds with public schools.”

He claimed that charter school employees get paid twice the pension amount paid to public school employees, plus retirement costs.

Because the PDE’s staff has been gutted from 1100 to 515, “it’s hard to get through on phones,” Bush said.

“Public ed continues to get pounded in newspapers, but only one cyber charter school met AYP benchmarks,” Bush said. “The current budget is coming up. Look at the decline in funding/subsidy going back five years–where is that going to take us?”

In other business. high school student council officers, a homebound request, and a sub list were approved by the board.

The board next meets on Nov. 15.