The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 14, 2013

Forest Hills likely to hold line on taxes

Frank Sojak

SIDMAN —  The Forest Hills school board on Wednesday approved a preliminary budget for the 2013-14 school year that retains current taxes and honored a number of students and teachers for their excellence.

The board also discussed the proposed high school-middle school building project with its architect and engineer and listened to their wrestling coach’s plea to have a wrestling room for his squad should the project come to fruition.

The preliminary budget for next year is balanced at just less than  $23.8 million. It is an increase of $73,635 from this year’s budget.

Business manager Chris Reighard said the district has not raised taxes for 19 years. He attributes that record to the district being frugal and having sound strategic planning.

Superintendent Edwin Bowser said the district has been saving for a new high school-middle school.

The project is still in the preliminary stages, he said. If the cost for the project is more than anticipated, the district would have to analyze whether to move forward, he said.

With the project, the new school would sit on the current high school-elementary school campus with the

district closing the middle school in Croyle Township.

That would mean all students would be on the same campus.

Bowser said the new school has been in the planning stages for 10 years. The process was labor-intensive and was based on a number of existing factors including a decline in student enrollment, the need to replace antiquated infrastructure, and the consolidation of existing facilities, he said.

“The school board and the

administration are working cooperatively with the architects and the project manager to ensure that we are designing a comprehensive, state-of-the-art building while being financially responsible to the taxpayers of our district,” he said.

In regards to the request from wrestling coach Jacob Strayer, the district is exploring options to incorporate a wrestling room into the design of the new school, Bowser said.

At the beginning of the meeting, the board recognized the following: Student Corry Fessler on his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy; Casey Gallaher on her selection to the All-State girls’ soccer first team; and  teacher Jennifer Motter, for her innovative art classes at the middle school.

The board also recognized the gifted grade 9 class along with the students’ teachers, Kevin Lang and Patrick Kovalsky, for taking first place in FirstEnergy’s Corp.’s Ways 2 $ave Electricity competition.

Penelec spokesman Dennis Platt said the students’ winning video on how to conserve electricity was tops out of

200 videos submitted by schools in FirstEnergy’s district, which includes Penelec in this area.

The feat earned the district a $20,000 award from First Energy.

The students are Kaitlyn Josephson, Jillian Scott, Morgan Scott, Katie Vitez, Alyssa Peretin, Tim Frazer, Ian Wieczorek and Dalton Faith.

Bowser said the school board is pleased to be able to recognize its students and teachers for attaining excellence.


To read stories in their entirety, visit one of these links:

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.