The Panther Valley School Board approved a proposal for a tax anticipation loan from Jim Thorpe National Bank last night. The proposal does not bind the school district to taking the loan; however, it was necessary to approve the proposal within five days of it being presented to the board. The board now has until Nov. 6th to close on the loan, if the state budget is not approved and the district needs funds.
Business Manager Kenneth Marx, Jr. explained that three proposals had been received and the Jim Thorpe Bank proposal was the best one, as it would allow the district to draw funds as needed, rather than taking the entire sum at one time. "This does not mean we are locked in. It is there for the future, if we need it," said Marx. The district would not incur any fees until actually closing on the loan. Marx estimated that the closing costs would be in the neighborhood of $3,000, which the district would be solely responsible for paying. Additionally, the district would also be responsible for repayment of the loan and any interest that accrued on the sum of money that was withdrawn.
The decision to approve the proposal did not sit well with Director Dave Hiles. "This is setting us up to borrow money, to incur expenses to pass on to the taxpayer because the state doesn't have a budget," he said. "I'm not voting to even get this far." Director Anthony DeMarco requested that the proposal be tabled. Marx warned that if the proposal was tabled, it would expire and a new request would have to be submitted. Marx added that he could not make the decision to close on the loan or withdraw money without the board's approval. "I would come to you in the future, say I need this much, and it would come to a vote." Hiles said that a vote for the proposal was "a vote to raise taxes." Director Tom Shober said that he would vote for the proposal, since directors Anthony Pondish and Jeff Markovich were absent; however, he "guaranteed a no vote" if closing on the loan comes up for approval.
Director Donna Trimmel agreed that the situation was not a good one, but expressed doubts that the state will resolve their conflict. "We've been waiting and waiting, and they're not doing anything," she said, of the legislators. "If they don't pass the budget, and we don't borrow the money, what do you guys propose we do?" Hiles answered, "Close the school." Trimmel expressed concern about students being able to meet the annual requirements, including the seniors who could actually not meet the requirements to graduate if the school year is cut short. "I look at the senior citizens who are struggling to pay their taxes," responded Hiles. "Maybe a senior can weather the storm better than a senior citizen. Young people today have a lot of time on their hands." Hiles did add that he would vote for the loan if he knew that the State would reimburse the District for any additional costs that would be incurred due to closing costs and interest.
The Board also appointed Amanda Kusko as the teacher of the gifted for the 2009-2010 school year at a rate of $135 per day. Kusko will work in the district two days a week. Previously, this position was contracted with the IU. Marx said that the change will save the district money. John Horvath was also appointed as interim athletic and activities director effective from Oct. 31, - Feb. 2, 2010, at a stipend of $5,000. Ashley Andrews was added to the list of substitute teachers for the 2009-2010 school year. Krista Harp was appointed as a substitute after school tutor for the 2009-2010 school year. Michele Martin was approved as the scholastic scrimmage advisor.
The board approved occupational tax refunds to Celestine Dougherty and Bruce Canzoneri. According to Marx, these payments were incorrectly paid. The Board also approved a final payment to Yannuzzi, Inc. in the amount of $86,536.65.
The board approved $4000 for adjustments to be made to the scoreboard at the football field. Marx explained that the scoreboard has been hit by lightening five times in the past two years. Each time, the damaged part had to be found, then sent to Florida for repair, often taking three to four weeks until the board was working again. The work that has been done on the board will now hopefully make it less likely to be struck by lightening.