TOWANDA - At its work session on Monday, the Towanda School Board discussed some votes that it will take next week, including whether to participate in a new federally-funded after-school enrichment program and whether to accept a lease agreement for the installation of an air quality monitoring station at the former Monroe-Franklin elementary school.

The school board also praised the results of the recently completed resurfacing of the school district's track.

Also on Monday, the school board will be voting to accept the resignation of Principal/Student Services Coordinator Michael Wells. Wells has resigned to take the job of elementary school principal with the Wyalusing Area School District.

The Department of Environmental Protection is interested in locating an air quality monitoring station on the Monroe-Franklin school property because of concerns about the effects of the Marcellus shale gas industry on air quality in Bradford and surrounding counties, according to an email from DEP Environmental Group Manager Donald Torsello to Towanda schools Superintendent Steve Gobble. The DEP is only interested in the site of the Monroe-Franklin property, and is not investigating any problem with the school itself, said school board member Peggi Munkittrick.

The school district would be paid $100 per month for five years to have the station located on the school property, Gobble said.

The school board will be voting next week on whether the school district will participate in the new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) after-school program.

STEM is an enrichment program, which would be open to "just about any student" in grades 6 to 8, Gobble said.

The Sayre, Athens, Northeast Bradford and Towanda school districts would participate in the STEM program, which would be held Monday through Thursday at the Ulster Elementary School, Gobble said.

STEM would be free of charge to district Students, and transportation would be provided that would take them from Towanda to the Ulster Elementary School for the program and then back to the Towanda school campus after the program is over, he said.

A presentation will be made to the Towanda School Board next Monday about the STEM program, and at that time, more information will be provided, including how it will benefit the students in terms of enrichment, Gobble said.

The STEM program at the Ulster Elementary School will be funded by a $333,000 21st Century grant awarded to BLaST Intermediate Unit 17, according to written information provided by the Towanda School District.

The board also discussed the results of the recent resurfacing of the district's track, which has now been completed.

School board Vice-president Robert Fetterman said he had participated in the final inspection of the resurfaced track, and said it was "beautiful."

Member Mark Gannon said he knows the resurfacing cost more than the school board had hoped, but added that "they (the contractor, Nagle Athletic Surfaces of Liverpool, N.Y.) did everything they said they would do."

President Pete Alesky said he had talked to a runner who was using the track after it had been resurfaced, who told him that the resurfaced track was "wonderful."

Business Manager Doreen Secor said after the meeting that school district did have to spend the district's entire $56,000 contingency fund on the resurfacing, because Nagle had to repair the unevenness in the track's underlying asphalt base.

The unevenness of the base would have affected how quickly the newly installed surface would wear out, Secor said.

Besides the $56,000 contingency fund, the school district spent $209,000 on the resurfacing project.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.