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The Elk Lake School Board gave a preliminary okay to a 2018-19 budget in the amount of $20,771.898.26.

According to Superintendent Ken Cuomo, that was $489,264 more than this year.

He said that increases in the new budget of $179,000 for increase in PSERS pension share, a $238,000 increase in salaries and a $102,000 increase in other benefits, more than made up for the increase in expenses from this year.

He said that between now and May, he and others would be trying to decrease the discrepancy between revenues and costs, so that a reasonable budget can be approved by the board by June 30.

At the start of the board meeting, CPA Paul Murphy provided an audit of 2016-17 expenses which he called a “mixed scenario - some good, some not so” compared to other years but nothing out of line, and he applauded the district for addressing the PSERS increases that have been a challenge for most school districts throughout the state.

He also addressed the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center audit which he said was “a little brighter news than Elk Lake.”

Cuomo thanked Murphy for his advice and cooperation with the business office.

In talking about the PSERS crisis, board president Chuck Place said, “I’m just glad we had resources built up to be able to address that.”

Board member Eric Emmerich also thanked Murphy for his input and fellow board member Ann Teel for her leadership in refining the cafeteria budget to make it more accountable.

The board also approved a preliminary working budget for 2018-19 for the Northeast Intermediate Unit.

The board also gave its okay to a 2018-19 calendar that has the first day of classes for students on Aug. 27 with a projected graduation date of June 8, along with built-in snow days.

In their administrator reports, Elementary Principal Marc Weisgold acknowledged that a mystery reader from WBRE-TV was in the school last week, and that the fifth grade concert would take place Tuesday (Feb. 13) at 6:30 p.m. He said that student conferences were this Friday, and that kindergarten registration would be March 7-9 .

“If you know of any five-year-olds, send them our way,” Weisgold said.

High School Principal Brian Mallery said there would be a winter dance Feb. 24, and a National Honor Society induction on March 13.

Special Education Coordinator Pamela Staats said that there have been some changes in assignments due to retirements but they were being worked out.

The board gave its approval of a sixth grade trip to Gettysburg later this year.

It also gave a second reading to school policies addressing employees (302), reduction of staff (311), and food services (808).

Among the activity positions given the thumbs-up were Tony Rezykowski as varsity baseball coach at $3,447.60; Jason Casselbury as junior high asst. baseball coach at $1,644.24; Ina Bradish as spring drama director at $2,264.02; Mike Murphy as varsity asst. softball coach at $3,806.16; Taylor Watkins as asst. varsity track coach at $1,644.25; Mary Berg as asst. boys volleyball coach at $2,895.99; Whitney Search as girls varsity volleyball coach at $3,006.97; and Mary Berg as asst. girls volleyball coach at $2.784.61.

During the public comment period, resident Rachelle Shaulis said she was present merely to thank the board for helping to make archery a part of school-sponsored activities which her fifth grader enjoyed so much. She said she was impressed with other students’ enthusiasm as well.

After adjourning from Elk Lake activity, the group reconvened as the SCCTC board.

In her director’s report, SCCTC Director Alice Davis reported that carpentry students had constructed six work benches for the Hunts for Healing organization in Laceyville, and were featured this week on a segment on WNEP-TV.

She also said a Third Annual Empowerment Summit for Women would be taking place on March 24; a new Practical Nursing 12-month program would be starting up in July; and a car show would be taking place May 6 to benefit Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors.

The board gave its support of a memorandum of understanding with Penn College for a dual enrollment program, and accepted a $1750 donation from Bill desRosiers which Cabot Oil & Gas would match.

The board also agreed that it would only be having one meeting in March with the next one at 7 p.m., March 15, in the Elk Lake High School library.