School board member says district must 'hang on'
TROY - Despite challenging financial issues, Troy Area School Board Member Bill Brasington said he believes the school district will survive.
"I don't believe we're going to go under," he said at the last school board meeting. "I think the board is going to do everything it can, so that the Troy school, the Troy Trojans, are going to be here, but it is not easy and this is just the beginning."
At a previous meeting, district superintendent W. Charles Young made a presentation to the school board in which he stated that if things don't change and nothing is done, "we'll be out of money in four years, and this district will be in some deep water."
Young was calling for the district to keep its financial house in order. He noted in his presentation that as income remains flat or drops, spending will have to drop.
He presented a proposal for eliminations in several areas, for a savings of $415,942.02.
Brasington, meanwhile, had attended a seminar sponsored by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) recently in Harrisburg. He shared the information he learned at the seminar with the school board.
Brasington said the school district has to "hang on" and remain solvent long enough to allow legislators in Harrisburg to come up with a solution for the school funding situation.
Brasington told the school board that when public outrage is loud enough and is focused on Harrisburg, the state government will act.
He said Troy has to remain solvent and "hang on" until Harrisburg presents a solution to the financial dilemma faced by school districts across the state.
"The big question isn't what happens after we crash," he said. "It's when you're going to crash, so you can make it beyond the other schools going over the cliff."
He said if other school districts crash, there will be "enough pain" and "enough angry voters" that Harrisburg will have to react.
Brasington told the school board that "bad" doesn't begin to describe what would happen if the district went broke and the state intervened.
"First, they send in a bean counter," he said. "They take over."
No regard for kids
He said the state could implement a plan and say "cut this, cut that, fire him, fire her, fire them."
Brasington said the state could cut a district program that isn't mandated, like kindergarten.
"They have no regard for the kids, they don't need to, they have no regard for your history," he said.
"They will come in and tell the board what to do, and if we don't do it, they will dissolve the board and do it themselves," he said.
Brasington also said there is the potential for class sizes to "balloon," should the state take over.
"Nobody is going to escape the pain if this happens," he said, noting teachers would have to deal with the large class sizes.
Brasington also noted that the state could merge Troy with another school district, if it takes over.
"Our future could be the Western Bradford County School District," he said of such a scenario.
He said the state also would probably "kill off half the sports, maybe all," should it take over the district.
Don't need East Troy
Brasington said the state would look at assets the district has, but doesn't need, such as the sports fields in East Troy.
"They come in, you're going to lose East Troy," he said. He noted that the district would probably, however, be able to keep its "gymnasium" sports, should the state take over.
"But you don't need a contract with Alparon Park, you don't need East Troy," he said, trying to explain the state's thinking.
"That's very important, that's why we need to avoid this," he said.
If the district merged with another district and the kids played sports in the merged school district, he said, "all our coaches would go away" and "all our heritage goes away."
Brasington reiterated his message that he picked up at the seminar.
Need to contact Harrisburg
"When you're going to go under is the driving force. You need push it out, last long enough, outlast the others and Harrisburg will finally act. We need our people here to call Harrisburg, write letters."
"We need the others (school districts) to arrive first to push the legislature," he said.
Brasington said he was told at the seminar that the game plan for districts in a position such as Troy's is to "hang on for dear life to the last, do everything you can to lower your long-term expenses, hope you can outlast their (other school districts') crash."
He said it's hoped that the state legislature could be convinced to stop pushing unfunded mandates, such as the Pennsylvania Core Standards.
"We have to hang on to save the school, it's the only plan we really have."
"We have a lot of work to do over the next year to get through what's in front of us."
Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.