June 25, 2008

Line Mtn. Building Project Continues

By Rachel Carta, The News-Item, Shamokin, Pa.

Jun. 25--MANDATA -- The Line Mountain Board of Directors will move forward with the more than $22 million building project after another effort to stall the project by one of the directors at the Tuesday evening regular board meeting failed.

The board voted to approve PlanCon F, which will approve the final phase of the design of the project before it is put out to bid, with Directors Marilyn Kauffman, Troy Laudenslager, Dave Keim, Dennis Erdman, Charles Sample and Jeff Blasius voting "yes," and Director Lauren Hackenburg casting the lone dissenting vote.

Josh Bower, of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, said he hopes to have all final approvals from several entities so that bids can be sent out for the project that addresses both Trevorton Elementary School and the junior-senior high school by mid-July.

Hackenburg said she would not be voting "yes" for reasons that she had stated in a January meeting that voiced her disapproval of the project. She also said she was not able to find a single person in her region, which consists of Jordon, Jackson, and Lower Mahanoy townships, who supports the project.

She urged her fellow board members to "go back to the drawing board to something that makes more sense, both fiscally and educationally."

Board president Troy Laudenslager, who was against the project during his previous term on the board, said while he agreed with some of Hackenburg's statements, "it was the will of the board, at this point the money's been spent and I'll stand behind the project."

Hackenburg said her reasons revolved around her feelings that the project did not make fiscal or educational sense. She also reiterated her feelings that both Leck Kill and Dalmatia Elementary Schools have not yet been addressed, despite the tax increase that was approved at the last meeting.

With a 3.5-mill increase, Hackenburg said many in her region are concerned about having to choose between paying taxes and being able to heat their homes.

"I would not want to be the one, nor put anyone in a position, by my vote to decide to purchase medicine, oil for their homes or pay their school taxes, which, if things keep going up, that is likely what is going to happen," she said.

She also cited her disapproval of increases in transportation costs of busing students in fifth and sixth grades to the building in Trevorton.

Superintendent Dave Campbell pointed out that nearly 90 percent of transportation costs are reimbursable by the state Department of Education.

Sample said the board has been dealing with the design and creation of the building project for two years and has been working to create a solution to fix the problems created when the middle school was disbanded.

Several years ago, grade six was moved to respective elementary schools and grades seven and eight were relocated to the high school.

"The restructuring put our kids in a detrimental situation," he said. "What we have done is come up with a solution."

Campbell said the decision to move grades five and six, from an elementary building to the Trevorton building will create a team that will be beneficial educationally to the students.

"Fifth and sixth grades are a completely different social class," he said. "Puberty is happening much earlier and getting them teamed is best."

He said, in his experience, the teaming has had "tremendous" results and is "educationally sound."

Exclusion resolution

The board also approved the farmstead and homestead exclusion resolution. The exclusion real estate assessed value is $2,419. Campbell said to figure out how much each owes, farmstead and homestead owners within the school district should subtract that number from their assessed value and multiply it by .583, which is the rate on each $100 of assessed evaluation of property.

In other news

Campbell reported that there were very favorable scores for this year's PSSA tests. He said Leck Kill and Dalmatia elementary schools were "outstanding."

Campbell also said he would be presenting the scores to the board at the next meeting in a longitudinal study.

Campbell said the district would also be continuing to implement a Response to Intervention (RIT) program. The program is designed to look at each student's ability level, as early as kindergarten, so that assistance can be provided to meet any need the student may have.

"It is intervening, right away," he said. "That's teaching and that's education."

Teachers hired

With the retirement of more than 20 teachers this year, the school district officials have continued to hire replacements and are nearing the end of the process.

The following three people were hired to teach health and physical education; Jill Martz-Yisrael, for a salary of $31,783; Chelsea Beach, for a salary of $31,368 and Michael Buriak, for a salary of $49,336.

Jill Lundy was appointed as head teacher at Dalmatia Elementary School. Roy Casey was appointed as Leck Kill Elementary School head teacher and David McCracken was appointed as Trevorton Elementary school head teacher.

The following teachers were approved for substitute teaching, pending clearances; Jean Adams, Karen Fenstermacher, N. Daniel Schwalm, Rosanne Carson, Cheryl Ibberson, Bonnie Snyder, David Deppen, Michael Martz and Charmaine Welby.

The board welcomed the new secretary Christina Bendas and said "thank you" to Rosann Moses, who will be retiring in the near future.

"We need you (Moses) to know how much you were appreciated," Campbell said.


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