Muncy School District Introduces A New Program
Muncy School District is not planning on cutting any of their programs and plan on maintaining what they have with their existing budget. “We have to take a ‘wait and see approach’ and my main concern is knowing how this money is going to be distributed,” notes Dr. Portia Brandt, superintendent. “We need to know where these stimulus funds are going and are they going to impact the educational gains of the students?” she asks.
Dr. Brandt was contacted by Zahorchak, Secretary of Education for a fifteen minute conference call on Tuesday morning to further discuss the need for a basic education subsidy increase and the appropriate use of federal stimulus dollars to aid academic achievement. According to Zahorchak, the governor of Pennsylvania is committed to using stimulus dollars to increase basic education funding and build on academic gains. However, there are concerns on whether these funds will be misused to inadequately fund public schools and put Pennsylvania behind more than 700 million dollars in funding when the funds run out.
“Personally, I would like to see a state tax increase to cover school budgets. This would be more fair,” Dr. Brandt stated. “For three years there has been a lot of controversy here on these stimulus funds. Let’s stop talking and get some action done in Harrisburg and don’t come home until the budget is done. We are in limbo – the state vs. local,”she adds.
A new program will be introduced this school year and teachers finished training last week for the Spell-Read Program introduced by Kaplan, Inc. Title I stimulus funds are being used for this program which is designed for grades one through seven to allow students to meet PSSA proficient levels. “It is perfect for the real strugglers,” said Dr. Brandt. Almost 80 students will participate in this program.
Two other changes that are taking place this upcoming school year include constructing a new front at the high school building and a time shift over the summer for the staff. They worked four ten hour days instead of five eight hour days through August 13 to help save energy costs. “We have seen a major impact from this,” said Dr. Brandt. “There was a $3,000 decrease just in our electric bill, definitely a savings in energy.” In addition to this, the school district recycles and cafeterias are set up to teach the students about recycling. “We are teaching the kids to be GREEN responsible.”
Other cost saving projects include a new server and e-mail system. The upgraded technology is more efficient. In the past, they were using a string of servers and there were problems and downtime with the system according to Dr. Brandt.
Another change will be the Keystone exams. They will be taken after the course is completed rather than waiting three years to take them. According to Dr. Brandt, this is a more logical approach.
There will be no changes in professional staff this upcoming school year but some new substitute teachers were hired.
Dr. Brandt finally stated that the school district is using funding dollars to build impact and capacity. “We are spending appropriately so that the programs can live.” Money is often needed for training educators and purchasing materials. Everything is ready to go for August 24.