The Tamaqua Area School District is seeking assistance with the renovation of its elementary school libraries.

During the district's board of education meeting Tuesday night, Superintendent Carol Makuta reported she and Steven Behr, elementary principal, have been discussing the condition of the libraries with the Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation.

The foundation, formed in November, 2009, is a non-profit organization which has the mission of assisting the school district independently with projects that it funds outside of the district's budget.

Among the projects the foundation has done to date in its short existence include the purchase of Apple iPads for the Tamaqua Area High School library and the announcement of a scholarship program for projects submitted by the district's faculty.

Makuta said she and Behr have presented information on the libraries for its three elementary schools (Tamaqua, Rush and West Penn) to the foundation at recent meetings.

"We looked at the conditions and what the needs are," said Makuta, who added she will provide an update on that information to the foundation at its next meeting.

Attorney Jeffrey Bowe, the solicitor for the district as well as secretary for the foundation, commended Makuta and Behr for their recommendation and said the project is being considered.

"It will be financially driven, and we may do one building at a time," said Bowe. "This is in elementary stages. The requirements and needs of each are different, and we haven't made a decision yet."

Bowe said the foundation was looking for the school board's blessing.

"This is like the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about," said School Board President Larry A. Wittig, agreeing with the need to refurbish the libraries.

"This is for reading and critical thinking, and that's what we want to encourage," said Bowe.

The foundation is holding its annual meeting and cocktail party on Saturday, Feb. 19 at The Restaurant at The Station, at which time it will announce its future plans regarding the project.

In other business, at Makuta's recommendation, the board approved resolutions seeking a $420,000 loan and $500,000 grant through the Alternative and Clean Energy program through the Commonwealth Finance Authority.

The district is in the process of looking to convert Tamaqua Elementary School to a geothermal heating and cooling system.

The board also contracted with MClure Company, Harrisburg, which provided the lowest quote, to perform a test bore to see if geothermal heating would be feasible at West Penn Elementary as well, in the amount of $8,250.

The board has also approved the installation of a 600 amp single phase new electrical service to the pole building at Tamaqua Area Sports Stadium.

Incident management

In other action, the board has authorized the National Incident Management System (NIMS) as the basis for all incident management for the district.

NIMS provides standardized procedures for managing personnel, communications, facilities and resources, which will improve the State's ability to utilize federal funding to enhance local and state agencty readiness, maintain first responder safety, and streamline incident management processes.

The use of Monday, Jan. 17 as an Act 80 Day, during which faculty attends school but the students do not, was approved retroactively by the board, upon Makuta's recommendation.

Early dismissal for all buildings for March 15-17 for PSSA testing, Kindergarten registration and parent-teacher conferences was approved.

The request of Susan Featro, high school teacher, to attend the 2011 Conference for the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education in Nashville, Tennessee from March 9-11 was approved.