Homer-Center School Board changes vendors for a new phone system at an increased cost

| Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 8:52 p.m.

Failure to communicate cost a Cranberry Township-based telecommunications company a hefty contract providing and installing a new telephone system for the Homer-Center school district.

Homer-Center School Board has rescinded its approval of an Aug. 6 motion to enlist ASCC Inc., at a cost of nearly $49,000, to provide and install the new phone system after the board learned the company is not a vendor approved through the Pennsylvania Education Purchasing Program for Microcomputers (PEPPM) as it had initially claimed.

The district caught the oversight prior to ASCC providing any equipment or completing any installation on the system.

The district will instead purchase additional network equipment from a PEPPM-approved vendor with $7,529 drawn from the district's capital budget, bringing the project's new total cost to $56,470.

PEPPM, developed and managed by the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit, consolidates bids from technology providers, allowing bidders to reach numerous potential customers and allowing school districts to bypass the expense and time of advertising and collecting individual bids.

In other business at its regular meeting last week, the board learned that Feb. 11 will be used as a makeup day for classes that were cancelled Oct. 30 due to superstorm Sandy.

The board approved Rita Palguta as an office-classroom aide and Amy Yackuboskey and Kim Roman as substitute bus drivers.

Homer-Center also agreed to pay 10 musicians $114 each for serving in the pit band for the high school musical, “The Pajama Game.” The action came after school officials discussed whether the district should require clearances and background checks for such positions in the future.

“For the sake of protecting ourselves in the future, we should go ahead and get them,” board President Vicki Smith said of the clearances.

Board secretary Carol Black said it would cost applicants $51.50 for the clearances. Board Vice President Gerald Bertig suggested the district may need to pick up the cost of clearances in some cases, particularly for volunteers.

The board plans to consult the district solicitor for advice on the matter.

In other business, the board approved nine student field trip requests, including five retroactively. Superintendent Charles Koren said there would be efforts made to reduce the number of retroactive field trip requests made to the board.

The board also approved homebound instruction for a secondary student and voted to allow Candy Shaffer and the Homer-Center PTA to use the elementary school gym for the annual Breakfast with Santa from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 8, with all fees being waived.

Smith wrapped up the meeting with an update on the study for bringing the state's first Challenger Center for Space Science Education to the area.

“It does look like the feasibility is good, that the educational background is there for it as well as the ability to raise the funds and find a place for it,” Smith said.

More than 45 Challenger Learning Centers have opened worldwide in honor of the crew members who perished in the 1986 space shuttle disaster. The centers reach more than 400,000 middle-school-aged students and 40,000 teachers each year. The facilities allow students to explore and learn through simulated space missions.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or greinbold@tribweb.com.

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