Towanda School District's energy-savings project near completion
TOWANDA - Most of Towanda School District's $1.8 million project to make its school buildings more energy efficient is now complete.
And the school district could see a $100,000 reduction next year in the amount of federal dollars that are coming to the Towanda School District through the Keystone to Opportunities grant, which aims to improve literacy in the school district.
Those were two of the announcements made at the Tuesday's meeting of the Towanda Area School Board.
In addition, the school board approved a school calendar for the 2013-14 school year that does something that has not been done in past years: in the 2013-14 school year, students will be required to attend school on Dec. 3, 2013, which is the second day of deer hunting season.
Compared to a generation ago, "hunting doesn't draw as much interest" from students, school Board President Robert Fetterman said.
In exchange, Towanda School District students won't attend school on Nov. 27, which is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, he said.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the day during the school year with the worst attendance rates, he said. "We think the low attendance is probably because students are going to see their relatives" for the Thanksgiving holiday, Fetterman said.
The first day of school for Towanda School District students in the 2013-14 school year will be Aug. 29, school district Business Manager Doreen Secor said.
Pamela Hosterman, principal for K-12 curriculum, said that she expects there will be a reduction in the amount the school district will receive from the federally-funded Keystone to Opportunities (KTO) grant in the 2013-14 school year, compared to the amount the school district received this year.
While there are only preliminary figures available as to the size of the reduction, the decrease could be $100,000, or it could be larger than that if the sequestration in federal spending goes into effect, she said.
During the current school year, the district was awarded $681,382 through the KTO grant program.
The KTO grant is aimed at improving literacy in grades pre-K through 12, and has been used to fund two new teacher positions in the school district, provide professional development training for other teachers, and to provide educational materials for students.
Even if there were a $100,000 reduction in the size of the grant, "we would still receive a significant amount of money (during the 2013-14 school year), which we will be able to put to good use," Hosterman said.
She said the a $100,000 reduction would not have a negative impact on the school district's efforts to improve student literacy. However, "we'd have a little less supplies," she added.
With the KTO grant, the district has been able to "buy about all we need to support the language arts program" in the Towanda School District, Hosterman said.
Secor also said that except for the replacement of obsolete electrical switch gear, most of $1.8 million project to make its school buildings more energy efficient has been completed.
The project includes a variety of cost-saving measures, such as installing upgrades to the lighting in the schools; installing motion sensors that will automatically switch off lights in certain locations if no one is in the room; installing faucet restrictors that will cut back on water flow; installing high-efficiency transformers in the Towanda Area Elementary and J. Andrew Morrow Primary schools to replace existing ones; upgrading vending machines so that the machine's lighting isn't on when people aren't using the machines; and sealing areas near the roofs of buildings to prevent drafts from entering the buildings, Secor said.
The replacement of the switch gear will take soon after school lets out for the summer, she said.
The energy savings project is being done by Honeywell Building Solutions.
The school board also approved a change in the way the school district is selling the Mulberry Street School to Kevin Tama of Towanda.
Tama will now purchase the school through a private sale, Secor said.
The school district had sought sealed bids for the school, and Tama had submitted the higher of two bids. However, under state code, the school district needed to post a handbill on the Mulberry Street School building to advertise the sale of the school, which was not done, Secor said.
Towanda school officials were not aware of the requirement to post the handbill, she said.
The terms of the sale to Tama, which Tama has already agreed to, will remain the same as before, she said.
As before, Tama will purchase the school for $41,000, and the school district will retain the gas rights under the property, she said. And, as before, there will be a restrictive covenant that will run with the property stipulating that anyone who owns the property cannot use it for a purpose that will exempt it from property taxes, she said.
Tama has agreed to purchase the school through a private sale, she said.
The sale of the school to Tama still needs to be approved by the Court of Common Pleas of Bradford County, she said.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.