JERSEY SHORE - Cyber schools, gas leasing and the recently-approved state budget were three topics state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, addressed at the Jersey Shore Area School Board meeting Monday.
Board member John Shireman said after passing a budget and seeing the financial impact cyber schools are creating on the district, he wanted to learn more about what the state is doing to address this issue, and as a result, he contacted Everett.
"I don't believe the way we are currently doing it is a fair way for school districts," Everett said, saying he realizes that districts have "total lack of control" over cyber school students' attendance and grades even though the district financially is held accountable for those students.
Board member Christopher Fravel asked if any legislation was being considered that would offer financial assistance to districts looking to start their own online program.
Everett said he's not aware of any, but does know of legislation that would allow districts to negotiate rates with existing cyber schools to allow students to attend for certain courses that districts, particularly smaller districts, can't afford to offer.
Also, Everett said high-paying jobs and other economic benefits could develop as leasing land for natural gas drilling from the Marcellus Shale buried beneath Lycoming County progresses.
"But it needs to be balanced," Everett said, saying school districts and housing will be affected as more people come to the area.
"We're looking at all that real close," Everett said.
Everett said he supports an "impact fee" that would be taxed on to the gas companies with that money flowing "back to our area where the gas is being produced."
On the recently-approved state budget, Everett said the budget is balanced and was balanced without dipping into the state's "rainy day" emergency funds.
"We feel we're on pretty solid ground for the year unless something totally unpredictable happens," Everett said.
The board offered members of the public the chance to question Everett, but no one took advantage of the opportunity.
In other discussion, the board gave its support to allowing the booster clubs to begin raising money toward a new mat room, possibly to be located in the old Jersey Shore Area High School weight room area.
Board vice president Harry Brungard said the clubs approached him about the idea, but they wanted to get support from the board for the concept before starting to raise the funds.
"I'm not asking for any money," Brungard said. "(The mat room) would definitely benefit the student body and the sports teams."
During the public comment portion of the meeting, softball coach Dan Lazorka of Limestone Township presented a "challenge" to the district's teachers and administrators, saying that if 90 percent pledged $100 each toward the mat room, he would donate $1,000.
"I think it's impossible," Brungard said, but added he too would donate $1,000 if the goal of 90 percent of the teachers and administrators donated $100 each was met.
Superintendent Richard J. Emery said the district priced the project in the past, and at that time estimated it to cost about $50,000 total.