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Penn Yan school board 03/04/09

Meeting: Penn Yan Central School District board of education met for approximately one and three quarter hours March 4. The meeting was preceded by an executive session to discuss personnel matters lasting 30 minutes.
Attendance: All board members were present. Five members of the public were in the audience.
Action: Approved creation of Gay Straight Alliance Club at Penn Yan Academy. There was considerable discussion prior to the vote. Board member Mike VanWormer said, “Last month I indicated my opposition. We live in a time when the homosexual is good and Boy Scouts evil. I want it made clear it in no way is based on my feeling for any of the kids.” VanWormer said the group is not what it purports to be. He said, “We can’t as a board approve a club that is against the values of society and most of the families in this district.” Board member Anita Maroscher said, “There is a fair amount of chance that it could be legally challenged. I am a firm believer of separation of church and state. If there is a good chance of having to defend a negative decision and probably lose. We need to support the 10 percent of kids who signed the petition.” A brief exchange between VanWormer and Maroscher followed, Maroscher said, “I’m all for tolerance and understanding.” VanWormer responded, “Whether you share my moral judgment or not, the view is that all is right and nothing is wrong.” Following discussion, the board voted five to three to allow formation of the club. VanWormer, Judy Kirk and Liz Warren voted no.
Discussion without action: Interim Assistant Superintendent for Business Rodger Lewis presented the first draft of the 2009-10 budget.
• During the public comment section of the meeting, district resident Greg Rector said, “I know times are tough and to have a job is better than not.” He asked the board of education to talk to all employees across the board, asking that all would agree to take no pay hike next year, concluding, “If everyone gives a little, you will have a lot better bottom line.”
• Jim Higgins, project manager for the high school capital project reported to the board on progress in February. Although the month was extremely cold the media wing roof was completed. Framing of all classrooms is complete and framing of the media center is a little head of schedule. Higgins said the President’s Week break, “Allowed us to move some things forward.” He explained the need for the change issue connected to drainage on the site to be approved.
• Bus purchases and leases were discussed.  Three 65-passenger buses with air conditioning are currently being considered as is lease of one propane-fueled 65 passenger bus. One of the diesel fueled buses would have a wheelchair station. Air conditioning is needed due to summer Special Education transportation requirements. The district borrowed buses last year that are air-conditioned. Two buses would be new and one a demonstrator. The plan calls for leasing the propane fueled bus for two years, the minimum lease term available. Purchase of more propane buses has been discussed, but leasing is being considered instead. This fuel will be readily available in the area, so the district would not have to install a propane fueling station. Lewis said, “The district has talked about going green. Propane is the only thing used in Europe for large vehicles. Down the road diesel will be more expensive and have more emission concerns.” Lewis said mileage and fuel cost is about the same. Earlier in the meeting when the transportation budget was being discussed, Lewis told the board the buses drive 3,000 miles a day, adding, “You could drive from here to Los Angeles in one day. A large district takes a lot out of the vehicles.” Total cost if all were acquired is $345,264. The life expectancy of buses is 10 years and the New York State Department of Transportation requires regular replacements.
Bids/Purchases over $1,000: Approved a Change Issue in the amount of $58,600 for Spoleta for Underground Drainage Work as per Department of Environmental Conservation regulations. The high school is near a flood plain and special regulations apply.
• Approved a fee proposal for Construction Management Services for high school roofing and auditorium renovation project with LeChase Construction in the amount $179,500
Upcoming meetings: March 11 and 25. Both meetings will be at 7 p.m. in the elementary school cafeteria.

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