Abington Heights School Board passes preliminary budget with no tax increase

By Robert Tomkavage - rtomkavage@timesleader.com

CLARKS GREEN — Members of the Abington Heights School Board approved a preliminary budget of $46,678,714.00, with no tax increase, for the 2018-19 school year during a regular monthly meeting May 16.

“The percent of our budget that goes to instruction is significantly higher than the average district or district like ours,” Abington Heights Superintendent Michael Mahon, Ph.D., said. “While we try to conserve in every possible area in our operation, we try to direct those savings to services provided to our students. We run a very tight budget.

“Relative to our peers and state averages, we spend much less per pupil than other schools,” Mahon added. “What we spend is tied to our revenue sources. We’re underfunded by the state and woefully underfunded by the federal government. Our local taxpayers do a great job supporting our mission.”

Members of the board voted to spend approximately $80,000 to improve the internet infrastructure in the district.

“Our equipment has not been updated in many years and the demands on the equipment have increased very substantially,” Mahon said.

Members of the board voted to award the Clarks Summit Elementary School roofing project to Grimm Construction, of Waymart, in the amount of $767,636.00.

According to Mahon, the bid includes a 30-year warranty and a vapor barrier.

“We think the largest and most disruptive component of the work will be done over the summer,” Mahon said. “We will probably be dealing with some end-of-construction issues as school comes back.”

Board member Philip Robson wants to see the project closely monitored by the district.

“I’d like if we could have defined phase checks so we know we’re on track — whether it’s by-weekly or monthly depending on the duration of the project — based on lessons learned from other projects,” Robson said.

Mahon feels confident the construction will go smoothly.

“The manufacturer (Carlisle) will be standing by the 30-year warranty and our experience is that they will be here regularly, in addition to our own engineers, to make sure sure the instillation is appropriate,” Mahon said.

Clarks Green resident Christina Wolfe voiced her concerns regarding the district’s decision to dismiss students during a heavy storm May 15.

“My 5-year-old child rode the bus home in the middle of the storm,” Wolfe said. “I feel like they should have sheltered in place. Her bus was hit by power lines and I heard from several children on the bus that the driver backed over them to get out because there was a tree across the road.”

Per Mahon, the decision was made to dismiss students after closely monitoring the forecast.

“Our thought was that we would have been fine to get everyone home,” he said. “It’s true that a telephone line came on the bus. According to the information we had, there was not a tornado warning (for Lackawanna County), but there were heavy thunderstorms coming through. I very much regret the difficulty everyone went through.

“We’re going to investigate this incident with the idea that we’ll learn from it and improve in the future.”


By Robert Tomkavage


Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.

Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.