EL, SCCTC may increase meeting frequency

BY PAT FARNELLI

The Elk Lake School District and the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center share a campus and school boards, and as with last Thursday’s meeting in Dimock, meet at the same time and place.

However, the two entities may have to part ways, at least for board meetings.

Superintendent William Bush noted, “The board is hard pressed to come in for one meeting a month and get both meetings done, plus have opportunities for public comment.”

The past three meetings have lasted about three hours, not counting executive sessions before and or after the public meeting.

A report was given by auditor Paul Murphy of Murphy Dougherty Co., which audits records of 13 districts in the region.

Murphy gave both Elk Lake and SCCTC a “clean report,” which he said was “in conformity with accounting principles and the highest level one can receive on an audit report.”

However, Murphy noted that several major budget areas had come in significantly under budget.

For the Elk Lake School District, revenue and funding were budgeted at $17.1 million, but approximately $16,327,300 was received. Delinquent taxes collected were off budget, as were gas revenues, and the two combined amounted to a loss of $400,000 from one year to the next, he said.

An accountability grant also came in lower than budgeted.

According to Murphy, the Elk Lake School District spent $1.76 million, much of it on the SCCTC expansion project.

Last year, the remainder of a Peoples Neighborhood Bank debt was refinanced to bonds.

The food service fund, which operates on a break even concept, did just that, Murphy said.

Vocational education or the SCCTC was budgeted at $1 million, but spent $1.2 million.

In other business, there were two transportation contract changes, and Bush asked for permission to request bids to purchase two new vehicles for SCCTC: a 14-passenger van to replace another with high mileage and rust, and a pickup truck.

Change orders were listed on the agenda for the SCCTC building project and for the roofing project.

It was noted that Master Mechanic had been paid $952,987.17 to date, but Bush said the heating was not working okay in some classrooms.

He noted that $30,000 was still left in budgeted accounts for the expansion project.

Elsewhere, it was noted that gas royalties from Cabot for December amounted to $27,506.

Bush also noted there was interest in tapping into the Marcellus natural gas resource that lay beneath the campus.

“We have had some discussion in past with whether we can hook up for utility gas,” Bush said, indicating that meetings with Leatherstocking were very encouraging.

He said that Russ Miller from Leatherstocking thinks it can get permission from Harrisburg (presumably the Public Utilities Commission) to service the district since “we have our own wells.

Bush noted that if Harrisburg approves the district it would be available for next year and costs would be cut one-third of what’s being paid now.

Chuck and Janice Winschuch of Dimock Township attended the meeting to voice concerns about the Church compressor station, which when completed, would be one of three within a two mile radius of the school campus and likely in line with the Williams pipeline under discussion.

Board member Anne Teel brought up an item on new technology.

“Could we form a committee to see if we could integrate more technology into schools?”

She noted, for instance, that a district in Salisbury Township, had an offering- starting with eighth grade- about hand-held devices.