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East Lycoming School District Plans to Bridge the Gap

By Staff | Aug 18, 2009

The three area Superintendents meet on a regular basis to discuss the state budget and organize local resources.

Dr. Susan Bigger, superintendent from East Lycoming School District said that the district is fiscally sound right now. “We don’t know what is going to happen in the future with this budget, but we can meet our bills and payroll and bridge the gap,” she assured. “However, our pre-K program could be in jeopardy,” she warned. “We have had it for two years and this will be our third year for the program which is completely grant funded through the state budget. Most likely it will not start this year if funding is not continued.”

She said everything is ready to start for the new school year in case the funding does come through, that is, teachers, classrooms, supplies, lists. The program services about sixty children with four scheduled sessions, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. The program has been very warranted in the district according to Dr. Bigger. “This is truly a parent ambassador program to the district because it is the child’s very first experience to school.”

On the other hand, the federal programs will be okay which include Title I and after school programs. “We have reserve funding to bridge the gap,” adds Dr. Bigger. “We have always been fiscally conservative and we don’t overextend our resources. We have been fortunate to have long term good planning by previous administrators,”

One thing is for sure. There will be no tax increase this year. But in order to meet all of the mandates in education, funding is inevitable according to the superintendent. “I think school districts have to spend money consciously and advocate equitable spending, Changing the educational climate needs accountability,” she adds. “Let’s ask ourselves ‘Do we need all of these mandates?’ Right now I must meet them and deliver them to families and children.” One program that she questions right now is the funding of Cyber Charter schools. Dr. Bigger announced that it is costing districts in Lycoming County more than a million dollars. “This is threatening to the district’s resources,” she comments.

To look at costs ahead has been a priority for the district and they are currently adding some very cost effective ways to cut down on their energy sources. Starting in 2002 the district implemented an Energy Performance Contract with PP&L and has seen an average decrease of 16 percent since that time. The district will be implementing some very unique energy saving projects in multiple ways in the near future which includes installing a 115 foot wind turbine and a biomass project by utilizing an $800,000 state grant. Ferrell Elementary school will be adding a geo thermal heating unit and Ashkar just received an energy star for operating cost reductions. “This proves we don’t have to rely on local tax dollars,” explains Dr. Bigger. “By looking into the future, we will be able to cut costs and afford them at a later date.”

The district has hired Jeremy Eck as a new high school guidance counselor and David Dimoff was hired to teach social studies at the high school. Long term substitutes were also hired and there will be no job cuts.