Palmerton Area School District has been afforded a one-year extension to spend the balance of a $1 million grant.

Superintendent Carol Boyce announced at the school board's Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting on Tuesday that the district now has until June 30, 2011 to spend what's left of the grant.

Boyce said she asked for a two-year extension, but was told by the state Department of Community and Economic Development that wasn't possible.

"They said they're not extending anything beyond one year," Boyce said. "And, they are no longer issuing grants."

All told, Boyce said the district still has a balance of over $250,000 left that it could use to spend on projects earmarked under the grant.

Boyce then read off a list of projects that have been completed through the grant, as well as projects where money has been set aside but yet to be spent.

She said one of the major issues that needs to be addressed is the stage inside the high school auditorium, of which $50,000 has been set aside.

"It is not top quality, and we need to have the kids safe," Boyce said. "My advice would be to put the balance left toward the stage."

However, before the district can agree to the move, Boyce said she must first receive permission from DCED.

She said the district last year received two estimates for the stage; one from Pittsburgh Stage, and another from Syracuse Stage.

The estimate from Pittsburgh Stage was between $275,000 to $350,000, while the one from Syracuse Stage was $235,000 as of a year ago, Boyce said.

Boyce then suggested the board consider an option where it would borrow money for the balance of the stage in the event bids would come in at or near the same price range as the earlier estimates.

Committee member Carol Dwyer again asked whether the district would use the $10,000 it has allocated in the grant to fix the steps at the S.S. Palmer Elementary building.

Dwyer said the steps that are most in need of repair are those located by Third Street.

"We should do the steps at S.S. Palmer, since there was already money allocated for the main steps," Dwyer said. "They have been an issue for years."

The committee said bid specifications should be written up for the steps.

Boyce said the district needs to come up with a long-range plan.

"We need to establish a rotation," Boyce said. "Our district mentality should be to put chunks in as a regular maintenance strategy."

Last month, Boyce informed the committee that the district had until June 30 of this year to spend what's left of the grant.