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Clearfield board votes to close three schools
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
The Clearfield Area Board of School Directors voted to permanently close the Clearfield Middle School, Centre Elementary and Bradford Township Elementary at the conclusion of the 2013-14 school year, at its meeting last night.
The district is expanding and renovating the high school and Clearfield Elementary to allow it to consolidate all of its classrooms into these two buildings. CES will hold all the K-6 classrooms and the high school the 7-12 classrooms.
A $35 million project to expand and renovate the high school is already underway and the district is in the planning stages of a $10.6 million project to expand and renovate CES.
The high school project is expected to be completed in April of 2014 and CES in August of 2014. Should projects fall behind schedule enough that they wouldn't be completed in time for the 2014-15 school year, board President Dave Glass said the board would be able adjust the schedule to keep the old schools open if need be.
Charles Knauff, the district's construction advisor for the project said yesterday the high school project is on schedule.
The administration is estimating the changes to save the district approximately $700,000 a year. Superintendent Dr. Thomas Otto said closing the schools would save the district approximately $1.4 million a year in staffing and utilities cost while financing on the high school and elementary school projects would cost the district roughly $700,000 a year in financing costs, according to a previous article in The Progress.
In addition, the three aging schools needed substantial renovations just to bring them up to code. Bradford Township was built in 1930, Centre Elementary in 1962, and Clearfield Middle School in 1954.
The board voted 8-1 in favor of closing the three schools with Glass, Mary Anne Jackson, Richard Schickling, Susan Mikesell, Tim Morgan, Jennifer Wallace, Larry Putt, and Dr. Michael Spencer voting in favor and Philip Carr casting the lone dissenting vote. All members were present.
Carr said he has been against the school-closing plan since the beginning saying he prefers keeping the neighborhood schools open.
At previous meetings Wallace had expressed some concerns that closing the schools saying would increase the bus ride times for many students. Following the meeting she told The Progress she still has these concerns and will continue to push for ways to reduce the bus ride times.
In other business:
• the board voted unanimously to adopt the resolution stating the district would not increase property taxes beyond the state index for the 2013-14 school year.
The state index for the district next year is 2.4 percent, which would puts the maximum property tax increase at 2.23 mills, according to Business Administrator Sam Maney.
Otto said state law requires school district's to either pass this resolution or submit a preliminary budget if the district plans to raise taxes beyond the index.
Otto said the district is not planning on raising taxes beyond the index and said the resolution allows the district to raise taxes to the index if something unexpected happens in the coming months.
Maney said he is confident the district will finish the 2012-13 school year with a budget surplus. However, he said it is still too soon to tell how large the surplus would be and said he would have a better idea by next month's meeting.
He also said they are still early in the planning process for next year's budget and said the district still doesn't know how much it would be getting from the state next year.
• Maney presented samples of the clothing from Pel Industries, of Arkansas, which wants to enter into a non-exclusive agreement to sell clothing with the Clearfield Bison logo to Walmart for sale in its stores. The district would receive 8 percent of Pel Industry's sales to Walmart.
Maney said all samples appear to have the "Jerzees" brand name.
At last week's meeting, the board requested the company send it some samples so it could see the quality of the clothing it would be selling.
Morgan argued in favor of entering into an agreement with the company saying Walmart is a major employer in the area and makes substantial charitable contributions to local organizations and said the agreement would provide the district with some funds.
At last week's meeting Wallace and Schickling expressed some concerns with the agreement saying they would prefer that these items be sold at locally-owned retailers rather than Walmart.
Schickling said he would like some time to speak with members of the community to see what they think.
Glass agreed and asked board members to think about it and said they would vote on it at next month's meeting.
Because it is a non-exclusive agreement, other retailers would be allowed to sell clothing with the Clearfield Bison logo, Maney said at last week's meeting.
• Clearfield High School Assistant Principal Heather Prestash reported five students decided to switch into the district's cyber school program after the district informed parents of the recent changes in the district's cyber school program. The district recently made changes where it would pay for the cost of Internet access for students during the school year as well as some of the printing costs.
Prestash also reported that three students that had been going to cyber school have decided to attend as regular in-school students.
• Assistant Middle School Principal Andrew Brickley said officials from local school districts, police departments and emergency personnel are meeting at the Clearfield Campus of Lock Haven University on Jan. 30 to discuss setting up a uniform crisis plan for local school districts.
• the board approved the following personnel changes:
Appointments, Fred Redden, varsity assistant softball coach and Angela Thompson as special education personal care assistant at CES.
Resignations, Jeremy Hudson, varsity assistant softball coach.
Position creation, approve the memorandum of agreement for the creation of girls golf coach.
Position collapse, collapse the 4.55 hour per day special education PCA at the high school because the student no longer needs the services. The affected employee is Sarah Climie.
• The board voted to hire Nevin Taylor formerly of CS Davidson as an independent consultant for litigation support services regarding litigation regarding the roof at Girard-Goshen Elementary. Taylor will be paid a rate of $125 per hour.
Girard-Goshen Elementary was closed following structural issues with its roof and the district has filed a lawsuit against the building's contractors.
• The board approved the field trip requests for the second grade at CES to go to Penn's Cave on May 22. The PTO is paying for the transportation, the district is providing two special education substitute teachers and up to two special education classroom assistants for special needs students not attending the trip.
• the board approved a settlement with the parents of a student who filed a complaint against the district. When asked by The Progress, Otto said the settlement does not provide any direct financial compensation to the parents, only that it would provide additional services to the student.
Glass said the district could provide no other information on the matter.
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