Rising cyberschool costs put K4, district programs at risk

Susquehanna Community School District has budgeted around $500,000 to pay cyber-charter school costs for 27 students enrolled in those schools this year.

The impact of that cost on the district budget prompted school directors to authorize a letter (included on this page) to be sent to parents and guardians of the cyber-charter enrolled students asking them to consider the district’s cyber program.

At the Wednesday, Jan. 15, board meeting, Superintendent Bronson Stone warned that, in light of deficit spending by the district, the board will need to make important and key decisions in educational offerings.

Stone said non-required programs would be looked at.

At risk, according to the letter is the four-year-old kindergarten program which provides educational opportunities for about 55 students each year.

The cost of cyber-charter enrollments is just a piece of the financial puzzle school districts are struggling to fund.

SCSD Business Manager Gary Kiernan reported that the district’s 2020 payout for the PSRS pension contribution is expected to be about $2.2 million. The cost for the pension payment will also rise the following year.

Stone reported that professional development on the district’s reading series will take place at the end of the school year, and utilize federal funding. 

He also noted that formal negotiations between the district and the Susquehanna Community Education Association began on Jan. 8. Stone said all district offers and SCEA contract offers would be placed on the district website for the public to review.

An audience member asked that the board consider adding contact information on the district website.

Board member Chad Haley said the board would try to come up with a solution.

Stone said they could consider adding board member email addresses and said the topic would be placed on the February work session agenda.

In other business, the board appointed Kristen Lawrence to fill the Region II, two-year seat on the board, effective Jan. 15.

The board also offered their approval to Cub Scout Pack 81 to use the elementary gym/cafeteria Jan. 23-24, for their Pinewood Derby car weigh-in and race; and the wrestling room in the high school to the Susquehanna Area Little League for tryouts Feb. 16-22.

The district also approved the master agreement with L.J. Bogumil and work order #1 for the elementary school chiller replacement in the amount of $216,445.

Stone explained the project was one of a series beginning with the chiller in the next month.

The projects – which will take place over the next couple of years – will result in overall cost savings for the district.

Stone said that the district should save about 30 percent on heating oil and cooling costs with the improvements.

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