Hollidaysburg Herald - Reliable News for Hollidaysburg

By Jack Thompson

Hollidaysburg Area School Board presents award of recognition, awards roofing contract


Last updated 1/22/2020 at 11:30am

The Hollidaysburg Area District School Board held a routine Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. During the meeting, the group presented an award to retired professor and local benefactor Fred Marschak for his continued support of the district's astronomy program. The group also heard reports from students representing the local elementary, middle and high schools, and discussed a portion of this year's budget pertaining to the school's issued bonds.

The meeting opened with the award of recognition for Marschak. Marschak has been an integral player in the district's astronomy program, and he has worked to educate both students and teachers in the use of the planetarium. His most recent contribution to the district was a metereorite collection, which will be used for the benefit of students looking to learn more about our solar system and beyond. Marschak "appeared at just the right time" to help the district expand its astronomy program, and he had glowing praise for the district and its students.

"It's been really remarkable coming back to Hollidaysburg," he stated after receiving the award. "It's been great to see the participation of all the people in the district, and the wonderful consent of the district and the consent of the principals. It's been, really, an awful lot of fun."

Before becoming a fixture here in the Hollidaysburg area, Marschak was a professor of astronomy for more than four decades in Santa Barbara, California.

Following the presentation, student representatives from the district's elementary, middle and high school schools appeared before the board to express their gratitude for the opportunities in the district. They also presented small gifts of cookies and doughnuts and played student-created videos for the board.

Afterward, the group moved into the agenda. The meeting was brief, but covered information on the district's bonds. The group also awarded a roof repair contract of about $407,000 to Wohler Roofing of Altoona. The roofing contract includes stipulations to increase the base price depending on whether further damage is discovered during the work. A representative from Wohler explained that the stipulation was in place to prevent going through change orders in case of routine, small repairs.

The group moved quickly into a discussion about the budget. Last year, the district had a budget of about $51 million. This year's budget process is still in its early stages, but is broken into sections for easier analysis by the school board. About $4.1 million, or 7.6 percent, of the budget is allocated to the district's debt service.

Debt service is debt issued by the school district that is then secured by the district's taxing power. According to the district's accountant, this "general obligation bond issue" is how districts get the money to operate, and she compared the system to a mortgage on a house that can be occasionally refinanced.

The board was presented with a packet on the district's current debt service and given a short talk on the meaning of terms related to the issue. The district currently holds about 35,300,000 in debt, scheduled to be paid off by 2030 granted no further debt is incurred.

The group also approved a handful of routine measures to approve a hardship extension, change the names of several courses, add a course on mobile app development, and to accept the Pa. School Board's principals for governance and leadership. The group will meet again on Jan. 22 for a voting meeting.


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