Over the past 12 years, the Tamaqua School District's Blue Raider Band has entertained at parades, sports events, concerts, competitions and even performed out of state, such as its trip to Florida's Disneyworld in February.

During that time period, although several generations of students have practiced, marched and played, one thing has remained the same - the uniforms, last replaced in 2001.

But the cost of outfitting the band's 150 members sends a discordant note into the music budget, which is about $42,000. Raider Band Director Mark Beltz, Superintendent Carol Makuta and education committee members Eileen Meiser and Wanda Zuber have been researching the cost of new uniforms, but the estimates could dent the budget to the tune of $71,000 to $84,000.

Makuta briefed the board on the progress of the research during the school board's committee meetings Tuesday.

Although the Band Boosters have offered to shoulder the costs of hats and plumes, about $11,000, the district would have to find the rest of the money from other areas of its budget, Makuta said. And the clock is ticking like a metronome, because the uniforms would have to be ordered within the next month or two in order for delivery by the start of school in fall 2013.

"The band boosters' offer is very generous, it's a great gesture on their part," Makuta said. "We would have to take a look at transferring monies from one department to another department."

Board president Larry Wittig suggested that the district look into finding out if one of the band uniform manufacturers offers a purchase program with a modest interest rate. Makuta said that she, Beltz and education committee members Eileen Meiser and Wanda Zuber will continue to research the possible purchase.

Elementary Principal Steven Behr briefed the board on the action plan which has been developed to improve PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) scores. Behr sought the board's approval of the plan so that he could submit it to the state. After listening to Behr's explanation of the plan, the board gave the okay for its submission.

Key points in the plan include:

Maintaining Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) at the elementary, middle and high school levels. The PLCs, comprised of teachers and administrators, will develop a schedule for checking, reviewing and discussing the scores students achieve on a variety of other standard tests.

Identifying students who are academically at risk.

Developing strategies for students who need intervention.

Establishing a system within the schools so that educators can partner with families to improve students' academic success.

In other action, the finance committee approved allocating $28,000 to improve the district's athletic fields. Although all the district's fields will be "top dressed", the football field needs significant repairs to remove a swale which has developed in the center. The board will vote on the matter next week.

Next week's meeting is at the Rush Township Elementary School, beginning at 7:30.