Hempfield might cut deeper to whittle $2.8 million deficit
If Hempfield Area school board decides to close Bovard Elementary School, it would be the first in a series of cost-saving measures officials may be forced to undertake to offset a looming $2.8 million deficit, Superintendent Andy Leopold said.
The board is considering eliminating Crossroads, an alternative school program for troubled students, he said.
“I'd hate to start a panic but it would be unfair just to look at Bovard,” Leopold said. “It's just one piece of the puzzle.”
Administrators explained to parents Monday that closing Bovard may be necessary to offset a deficit as the district begins the 2013-14 school year.
Even with closing Bovard, program cuts may be needed, Leopold said.
He said he would prefer to investigate other cost-cutting measures before deciding whether to eliminate educational programs.
“My philosophy has been to start (cutting) as far away from the classroom as possible,” he said.
“Even with the closing of Bovard, however, educators are cognizant of the fact that additional cuts to programs will be likely to reduce our current deficit,” said Dr. Barbara Marin, assistant superintendent for elementary education.
“Our concern is we're going to see education programs suffer,” she said.
“Closing Bovard would offset future, deeper cuts,” added Leopold.
District officials reorganized the class structure of its three middle schools to save $750,000. The board saved another $50,000 by eliminating the Road Less Traveled program, which helped chronically truant students to graduate.
Officials are beginning to mull over the possibility of leasing Hempfield's bus garage to generate additional revenue, Leopold said.
Hempfield finds itself in the same position as school districts across the state.
Over the past three years, districts have closed 169 schools, according to the state Department of Education.
The Gateway School District in Allegheny County, Ligonier Valley and Derry Area districts in Westmoreland and Ringgold in Washington County have recently closed schools, which prompted an increase in charter school enrollments, according to Leopold.
Other districts that have been forced to close schools to save money include Pittsburgh, Penn Hills, West Mifflin, East Allegheny, Highlands and Wilkinsburg in Allegheny County.
The Ellwood City School District, which includes students from Lawrence and Beaver counties, and the Somerset Area School District in Somerset County also have closed buildings.
In Hempfield, closing Board will result in the elimination of 15 positions. That includes 8.5 teaching slots, although educators may be able to move into other slots within the district, depending on their seniority area of certification, Marin said.
Business Manager Jude Abraham said the district would save between $1 million and $1.1 million by closing Bovard, although some parents questioned the accuracy of his estimates.
“These are pretty conservative figures,” he said. “We would never be below $900,000 (in savings) with this project.”
The district has backed off plans to test the ground beneath Bovard to see if it would be feasible to build an addition there. Leopold said the cost of the tests was exorbitant.
After receiving initial estimates of $10,000 to $15,000, he received a price of $29,900 Monday. That prompted the school board to nix the plan since building an addition to Bovard never was a serious consideration.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins pushing to sell playoff tickets
- Frederick’s bombs lead Belle Vernon softball over Elizabeth Forward
- Highmark asks patients to ‘Meet Dr. Right’
- Fawn man accused in assault sentenced to probation
- Penguins stars Crosby, Malkin enduring playoff slump
- McKeesport’s Lake Emilie ready for trout season
- Marte’s bat, Worley’s arm show improvement in Pirates win
- Butler County new home sales surge in 2014
- Business owners see pros, cons to Lincoln Way widening in White Oak
- Marathoner hit by vehicle in Murrysville recuperates
- Federal appeals court appears divided on Obama’s immigrant deportation shield