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Freeport rejects band request to fly to Florida

| Thursday, Nov. 14, 2002

The Freeport Area School Board denied Wednesday night an unexpected request to fly the band to a planned trip to Disney World in Florida rather than travel by bus.

Regardless of how the band gets to Florida, the taxpayers don't pay. Parents and band boosters pay for transportation through contributions and fund-raising.

Band booster's president Marsha Weleski, who favors flying, said that a majority of the 25 parents who attended the last booster meeting agreed with her. Weleski said that the 22-hour bus trip cut into the time students would have in Florida. She said that it was harder to keep an eye on students on a bus trip; the students go to various areas at rest stops and monitoring is difficult, Weleski said.

The trip is an annual event, and band members and their chaperones always have gone by bus. So far, 95 of the 105 band members have signed up for the trip.

Superintendent Joe Malak said that he received 15 calls in the past month from parents against the plane trip.

School Board President Meredith Christy favors bus transportation.

"I feel that this is how we could provide the most security for students," Christy said.

Voting in favor of using bus transportation were board members Christy, Dennis Bergbigler, Sally Fleischer, Gary Gallagher, Barbara Toy-Gaydos and David Heilman.

Board members Tracy Hutchison-Derouin and Mark Shoaf opposed the motion. Neither thought the board should be involved in determining the method of transportation.

Board member Michael Huth was not present for the vote.

In other business:

  • Parents of majorettes want to see the twirlers performing at halftime. Barb Sofko, the parent of a ninth-grade majorette, presented Christy with a petition signed by 50 parents asking that the majorettes be put back into a halftime program.

    Christy said that he would check into it.

    "We'd like to see the number of majorettes increase," he said. "We encourage extracurricular activities."

  • A long-awaited feasibility study to determine whether the Armstrong School District independently could operate the Lenape Technical School program should be ready by February.

    Leechburg Area, Armstrong, Apollo-Ridge and Freeport Area districts send students to Lenape. Of the 454 students enrolled, about 78 percent come from the Armstrong district.

    Three of the four member schools have rejected a proposed $11 million building-renovation project at Lenape.

    When that happened, Armstrong School Board members, who favor the project, began to consider taking control of operations at Lenape.

    The feasibility study will answer questions from the governing of the school to the possibility of transferring some education programs and streamlining staff.

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