HUGHESVILLE – Opening with a moment of silence for students and teachers gunned down in their classroom in Texas earlier today, the issue of school safety was front and center during the last school board meeting in ‘East Lycoming.
A presentation by architectural firm Marotta/Main, which is managing the construction project for a new building for Ashkar Elementary, prompted council members to wonder if a staircase in one of the design concepts presented a safety risk or whether using glass versus masonry would provide more safety.
As one board member said, “I want the kids to have something beautiful, and it’s certainly nice to have something aesthetically pleasing.”
“At the end of the day, I want children to be protected in every way. I mean, we just had a moment of silence for the situation that none of us want to be in,” she says.
The council was given several design options for roof type and facade choices. The plan now calls on the architects to consider the council’s suggestions for the building’s exterior, update an estimate of cost and design development, and then develop bid alternatives for consideration by the district. Then the architects prepare everything for an Act 34 hearing.
“When you finally come out to bid on the building, you don’t have to specifically say that’s it, that’s all we want to consider, that’s all we want you to bid. You can say whether we want you to bid on this building with traditional brick or for the first five feet you want it to be larger brick so when the bids come back you can actually do that cost comparison and tell you, it’s not as much as I thought it was so we’re going to stick with the traditional brick,” said Michael Pawlik, District Superintendent, explaining the concept of bid alternatives. “You might say, oh my God, I can’t make the savings, so we want to go with the bigger block.”
“So we don’t have to have exactly what we want, because you might not know exactly what you want until you get the prices, because it’s all a comparison between the cost and value.” he added.
The council also discussed the construction of the baseball field and the need for a concession stand and bathrooms in addition to the bathrooms in the adjacent football field.
The final 2022-2023 general fund budget has been approved by the board. The $27,428,000 budget includes a 0.7 mil increase that brings the district’s property tax mileage to 15.66 mils.
Other taxes included in the budget are a real estate transfer tax-Law 511 ½ of 1.0% and labor income tax-Law 24 of 1.2%.
Under personnel items, the board approved the resignations of: Nicholas Tagliaferri, the boys’ head varsity basketball coach; Ryan Callahan, head coach of women’s college basketball; and Joshua Stutzman, college football assistant coach.
They approved: Cody Hack as the girls’ head varsity football coach at a pay rate of $2,889; Elizabeth Barber, Misty Jacobs for summer employment at $13.25 per hour through June 30 and $13.61 from July 1 through August 19; and Julie Connerton for summer employment at the rate of $13.65 until June 30 and $14.01 from July 1 to August 19.
Other items approved by the board were:
• A 2022-23 special education services agreement with BLaST.
• The 2022 Family and Farm Property Exclusion Resolution.
• The 2022-23 school resource officer agreement with the borough of Hughesville at a cost of $65,100, an increase of $1,100.
• The appointment of Donna Gavitt as Treasurer of the Board and as a PSBA delegate to attend the Delegates Assembly in October.
The next council meeting will be at 7 p.m. on June 21, at the high school library, 349 Cemetery St.