The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 20, 2013

Cuts taking toll on conditions, some say

Kathy Mellott

NORTHERN CAMBRIA — A budget cut made by the Northern Cambria school board last spring is having an impact on the condition of the district’s two school buildings.

Things just aren’t very clean, board members were told this week by a number of residents, some citing increased sickness among students as a possible result.

High school student Natalie Krug came armed with a petition bearing the names of 80 students asking that the number of maintenance staff be restored to its former level or at least increased.

Of particular concern are the locker rooms, with students reporting an increase in the number of foot-related diseases and problems.

One mother, Betty Krug, said her two children have had all-time high numbers of absentee days this year because of unsanitary conditions.

“The kids are getting sick over and over again. We need to bring those custodians back,” she said.

The maintenance staff and classroom aides were two areas hit hard last spring when the board attempted to bridge a gap between revenue and expenditures.

District employee Suzy Britton said the task of all that needs to be cleaned on a regular basis is just too great for the existing staff.

“It’s not their fault,” she said of the four-person staff. “They are trying to do the best job they can. Something needs to be done, and it needs to be done now.”

Along with all of the classrooms in the high school and middle-elementary school, the staff must clean a multitude of restrooms, all gymnasium, library and auditorium facilities, offices, central administration, shop, locker rooms and the swimming pool, Britton said.

“It’s not only us,” Britton said. “Visitors can see it.”

The concerns sparked talk by the board of an effort that would begin to restore the maintenance staff with discussion regarding an additional seven-hour-per-day person and two five-hour-per-day employees.  

However, no action was taken during the regular board meeting, with members indicating it likely would come up later, perhaps as part of the 2013-14 budget talks.

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