Hazleton Area School Board Meeting

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Mary Ann Thomas, of Hazleton, presented school board members with a petition Thursday night with nearly 1,000 signatures against the cutting of middle school sports programs and clubs.
About 200 students, faculty members and parents were in attendance at the meeting, which began at 6 P.M in the McAdoo-Kelayres Elementary school. The first two hours of the meeting consisted of public comment and board member discussion of the proposed cuts.
The Hazleton Area School District is trying to overcome a $7.1 budget deficit, while also trying to ease overcrowding of about 1500 students with a proposed $4.4 million magnet school.
Mary Ann Kay, parent of a Hazleton Area High School graduate who now attends Brown University, noted the deficit and said “now you want to purchase magnet school we don’t have money.”
Kay’s son was a wrestler from youth, participated at the middle school level, and went on to compete for the high school.
She suggested board members to start with a smaller magnet school, and to keep sports programs intact because “the kids keep their grades up just to be able to participate in sports.”
Deb Carr was recognized for her research and time put in to the magnet school concept, along with Donald Bayzick, director of middle schools. Carr who is retiring at the end of the current school year, said of her job “I appreciate the challenges these years have brought me.”
“[The magnet school] will be used as a motivating tool for students to do better,” Carr said. Eliminating rumors of the magnet school being “elitist” Carr explained “if they have the grades, they can attend.”
Robert Childs also defended the purchase of the $4.4 CAN DO building in Drums. “From a taxpayer’s point of view, we get 1500 seats at the cheapest facility,” Childs said. “quit calling it a magnet school, I’m looking at numbers for the taxpayers, you could put it in the [existing] high school if you wanted to.”
According to business manager Tony Ryba the school district would receive a 66 percent reimbursement for the purchase price of the building, and an additional 22-25 percent for any construction done to the building.
Several students within the district spoke on behalf of sports programs, including 2012 class president Hailey Price.
“If sports and clubs are eliminated, our very futures have been put at stake,” said Price.
“Clubs provide countless scholarship opportunities,” said Price. Mentioning her younger brother, “if sports and clubs are cut what happens to him or the others henceforth down the line?”
Barry Jones, Conyngham said “I feel sad knowing someone will have to hear the words sorry we can’t afford you anymore,” referring to students not being able to participate in sports.
Board member Bob Mehalick said “ I will not support sports or extracurricular cuts, thank you for showing us what we did not see two weeks ago. I will not support anything that takes away from these kids.”
Board member Steve Hahn said “we need department heads to sit down with personnel to discuss cuts. We need to pass the pain around to everybody. We need input from unions. We need input from unions. We need a plan that works without burdening taxpayers.”
Hahn’s statement was met with applause from the crowd.
On a vote to rescind middle school sports team cuts, the board was unanimous in their decision to keep the teams intact.
Thomas also mentioned the former Hazleton High School castle  as a “waste of money.” Thomas said “the building is falling apart. They want to have productions, plays, and concerts… give it back to the kids, it doesn’t have to be a public façade.”

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About Trish Reznick

Writer. Pessimistic optimist. News junkie. I write real estate advertising pieces, but my heart's in music journalism. To make the real estate biz more exciting I put music references in to a good percentage of my writings. I guess you could call me a liberal. I have an extensive record collection and I prefer them over MP3s any day... unless that particular day I plan on leaving my apartment. Considering I'm an extrovert, that is quite frequently. I'm a scorpio...which is a nice way of saying I have intense mood swings... I thought that was just called being a chick.

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