PURCHASE LINE — Purchase Line school board will need to select another firm to auction off North Elementary School.
According to solicitor Ron Repak, the intended auctioneer, Pat Errigo, of Curwensville, withdrew his contract proposal after discovering that he had miscalculated the bottom line, with the mistake being in the district’s favor.
So, Repak told the board during a meeting Monday, they’ll have to choose another firm.
The board has two to choose from: Pete Stewart & Son Auctioneer, of Indiana, and Total Auction Services, of Cherry Tree, both of which had bid on the job. A fourth auctioneer that had submitted a proposal already had been eliminated from consideration.
The board closed the Clearfield County school at the end of last year, citing declining population. It has sat empty since.
Also Monday, Director Jim Stiffler suggested restoring a second week to the district’s popular Leap Into Learning program.
The second week was lopped from the summer program’s schedule during a round of budget cutting last spring.
Stiffler said that with the district placing a focus on early learning, maybe the board should think about putting the week back.
“Could we utilize that time?” he asked.
The pre-kindergarten program is designed to acquaint incoming pupils with the school day — they ride the bus and eat in the cafeteria — and walks them through some early academic lessons.
The board seemed willing to entertain the idea, and no one raised any outright objections to it. Director Kevin Smith said that at this point in the year, he’d be content to wait another year before taking that action, as registrations are being accepted and parents are working under the assumption that the program will be for one week.
It is currently scheduled to take place July 15 to 19. Sixty-five pupils have been signed up.
Superintendent Tina Hazelet told the board that the addition of the second week would depend on whether the teachers and staff who run the program will be available.
She instructed administrators to find out. She also told them to make a recommendation on how best to inform parents if the program were to be extended.
In other matters, Director Scott Gearhart said that perhaps the board should think about hiring an in-house IT manager as a way to cut costs.
His suggestion came as the board learned that one company, Ebensburg-based Cjaws Inc., had submitted a proposal for managing Purchase Line’s IT systems. Cjaws currently holds the contract, which is to expire this year.
Cjaws President Charles Shingle is proposing to do the job for $137,500 in 2013-14 and for $140,920 in 2014-15.
The idea found some support with Stiffler, who said that although the proposed cost for next year is less than what the district is paying this year, the difference probably should be greater.
He said that with the North Elementary School closed, there should be more savings.
And although the Cjaws contract is serviced by more than one person, Stiffler said he thought the district could get away with hiring one professional in part because he or she would be working at two next-door buildings.
But business manager Janice Pearce pointed out that even with North Elementary School closed, there are still the same number of students. And the technology remains the same.
This is the second time in about as many years that the board at least has considered discontinuing a contract with a professional services contractor.
Last spring, the board agreed to forgo renewing a contract with Metz Culinary Management, believing that it could save money.
It’s not clear whether that has proved to be the case. Numbers were not available Monday night.
Also Monday, the board scheduled a special meeting for 6 p.m. April 23. The meeting was called so that administrators can introduce the district’s proposed 2013-14 budget.