Abington Heights School Board discusses transportation plans

By Robert Tomkavage - rtomkavage@timesleader.com

CLARKS SUMMIT — Members of the Abington Heights School Board agreed to move ahead with the bidding of all bus routes during a regular monthly business meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

“For a while, the board has been talking about the prospect of bidding out our bus routes,” Abington Heights Superintendent of Schools Michael Mahon said. “We’ve never bid the routes before and there are certainly some pluses and minuses. It’s conceivable that the best decision is to continue doing it as we always have, but I think it would benefit everyone to look at different alternatives. Our goal is to determine the lowest possible cost for transportation in its totality and we’ve made it a point to be sure any contractor can bid an individual route.”

Board member Michael Fleming agreed the routes should be bid in order to get the best price.

“I think you have to bid them, just as a exercise in good business practices,” he said.

Director of Student Services Peter Smith addressed the school board to report some of the guidance department’s new initiatives.

“We’re doing some really engaging, interesting and incredibly useful things for high school students,” Smith said. “Every week, we’re running reports and setting different thresholds (to check) how students are doing academically. Also, in the spring, we visit every classroom to talk about program planning for next year’s courses. I think we’ve been very successful and have built a culture through the elementary schools where the students are very comfortable meeting with their guidance counselors.”

Members of the school board agreed not to raise real estate taxes above the Act 1 index of 2.4 percent. Raising taxes to the index would net the district approximately $600,000.

The district is facing an operational loss of approximately $2.5 million for the 2015-16 school year and $3.5 million for 2016-17.

“It’s OK not to raise taxes and I think it’s OK to say we have to make cuts, but I would strongly suggest that it’s not OK to not raise taxes or make cuts because the operational deficits are going to grow,” Mahon said. “I don’t think we can avoid both.”

By Robert Tomkavage


Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.

Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.

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