DuBois Area School Board looks at preliminary 2021-2022 budget, hears administrative reports. Written by Glenn Schuckers

Business Manager Jeanette Buriak gave the DuBois School Board its first look at the preliminary budget for the 2021-2022 school year. Buriak pointed out that this is just the first look at the new budget and that it will undergo many revisions before the final adoption.

School districts have until the end of June every year to adopt a budget since the schools operate on a July 1 to June 30 calendar. In the interim the directors and administrative staff will see many changes to the spending plan.

Currently the projection shows spending at just over $63 million dollars which would be an approximately 2% increase over the 2020-2021 year. The revenue comes from various sources with slightly less than half from local sources. A little more than half comes from the state of Pennsylvania and only about 3% comes from federal sources.

Between now and its adoption in Jun, the directors will have ample opportunity to offer input and once the budget is prepared but before it is adopted in June, the public will be able to examine and comment on the plan.

Administrative updates

Every department and building in the District was present to show the directors where they are at the approximate mid-point of the school year.

Superintendent Wendy Benton outlined where its schools are in relation to the status of the Covid-19 pandemic. Benton said students, beginning with the elementary grades, started to return to in-person instruction on October 12 and by November 9 students in all grades were able to return to a full schedule, five days a week. She gave credit to the school staff, parents, and the community for making this possible, something many communities in the state have not been able to accomplish.

Concerning curriculum, the high school administrators pointed out that the addition of a greenhouse at the high school made it possible for students there to take part in projects growing plants. One of those projects, high school principal Brian Weible said, was filling 150 clay pots and then donating them to residents at Christ the King Nursing home.

Weible added how he and assistant principal Charles Pasternak were very proud of the way the high school students have dealt with the problems caused by the virus and associated changes at the high school. They repeated that the students have been great, the staff has been dedicated to their goals, and working together, they have built outstanding community-building partnerships.

The Middle School administrators reported there is a 1:1 ratio of students with Chromebooks and that the staff has been active in promoting social-emotional learning. They have also added practical arts classes to meet student needs in the future.

Each of the four elementary schools, Juniata, Wasson, Oklahoma, and C.G. Johnson, then gave individual reports through their principals. They all pointed out how the staffs and teachers have worked hard and long to carry on throughout he difficult situations caused by the virus interruptions. They each outlined programs their staffs have undertaken or completed to make sure the students get the benefits of a safe and welcoming school.

Transporting students to and from school has also been difficult given the restrictions of the virus, but even though the Transportation Director Andy Edinger was new to the job, he has been able to carry out that responsibility safely.

Maintenance Director Steve Dunlap reported that his crews have been working to install water bottle filling stations in all facilities in addition to preparing the stadium for the coming year. The have installed new flooring in many locations in addition to changing much of the outdoor lighting to LED lights which will save on electric costs in the future.

Dan Brocious, the district director of technology, said he was proud to report that every student in the district now has a Chromebook which can home home for schoolwork and homework. The technology department has also been busy installing improved security cameras at all the district’s buildings.

The district’s police personnel have also worked hard with the administration to create meaningful activities in and out of the schools. They have worked hard to alleviate problems caused by the virus and make sure students both attend school and feel safe while they are there.

Food Service, according to Superintendent Benton, has served 157,000 breakfasts and 211,000 lunches, all prepared and served according to guidelines consistent with virus mitigation. They also have had “Cookie Days” for every holiday.

Anne Young, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessments, said the team has been focused on four areas; student needs, instructional tools, career opportunities and planning for the 2021-2022 school year. She also said the Alumni and Educational Foundation has been having a very good year providing opportunities and scholarships for district students.

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