WA schools safe for 2013-3014


First Posted: 3/28/2013

No Wyoming Area schools will be closed in the 2013-2014 school year.

Board member Frank Casarella made the announcement at the Wyoming Area School Board meeting on March 26.

“We have passed the deadlines for closing a building,” Casarella said.

He said one school in the district, the Sarah J. Dymond Elementary School on Sutton Creek Road in Harding, would have been a good candidate for closure.

“A lot of that was covered last year,” Casarella said. “We would have saved almost $300,000 by closing one or the other. We have one school that only has 140 kids and six empty classrooms.”

The John F. Kennedy Elementary School was also on the chopping block last year but both schools stayed open.

“Not that we were going to close a school this year, but we have to let state know if we’re considering it,” Casarella said. “Now, it’s off the table.”

Wyoming Area Education Association President Melissa Dolman presented the board a petition of over 600 signatures from local residents, urging the board to come to an agreement on a teachers’ contract.

“This is a petition that we have asked district taxpayers to sign,” she said.

“What they’re saying is the teachers have been working for three years without a contract and they’re asking you to finally settle this contract.”

The next scheduled negotiation is set for April 17.

“These parents, taxpayers and neighbors want this board to sit down, negotiate and award the teachers a contract,” Dolman said.

The board tabled two requests to use district facilities by the West Pittston Rams football team.

Ann Marie Taggert, president of the West Pittston Rams, asked the district permission for her organization’s players and cheerleaders to use the football facilities, including the press box, scoreboard, rest rooms, practice fields and cafeteria fields, for practice and games from June through November. Games are held on Sundays from Aug. 18 to Oct. 27.

The Rams asked the board to waive the $1,000 rental fee and the $25 per hour fee for custodians.

Taggert also sought to use the Secondary Center cafeteria and kitchen for the Rams Awards Banquet from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 24. A $25-an-hour fee would be charged to the organization for a food service worker’s services.

Board members discussed drawing up a specific policy regarding the use of district facilities.

The board said it is waiting to find out how much re-seeding of the stadium will cost before it waives any fees there.

Board member Gil Dominick said there is an expense to operate the cafeteria and kitchen.

“I would like to get a list of how many times are outside interests using our facilities?” Dominick said. “There’s other places in town, like fire halls, that have kitchens, that would be cheaper to run. Every time you turn around, there’s a function in the cafeteria and you have to pay workers, janitors, heat and electricity.

“I know it’s convenient,” Dominick said. “But what’s the total at the end of the year?”

Board member Mary Louise Degnan suggested the board review its policy for renting district facilities.

“It’s not that I don’t want to do what is stated, I just want to get more information.” Degnan said.

In other news:

»Superintendent Ray Bernardi said that if Governor Corbett’s plan to privatize the state liquor system passes, $1 billion will be distributed to the 500 school districts over four years through the state’s “Passport for Learning” block grant program.

The new money would be allotted to districts through a formula using enrollment as a key factor.

Wyoming Area School District stands to gain $1,635,045 over four years and $327,009 the first year.

The cash will be used to boost four different aspects of education: security, early education, customized curriculum for students to learn at their own pace and classes in the “STEM” fields, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, in grades six through 12.

» Students Greg Cajka, Stormy Ruiz, Lisa Guido and Gared Zabosky finished in second place in the Northeast Pennsylvania High School Challenge Tournament held at Mountain View High School in Kingsley on March 16.

These students will appear on the Scholastic Scrimmage show on WVIA-TV at 7 p.m. today, March 31.

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