FARRELL Schools to pay $18,028 penalty

FARRELL, Pa. -- The Farrell Area School District will have to pay a penalty of only $18,028 for running what the Pennsylvania Department of Education deemed to be an unauthorizedkindergarten program for 4-year-olds.
The state initially had said Farrell could lose up to $300,000 in future state subsidy payments for running the program, which was started in the 1992-93 school year.
The district, however, through the efforts of Superintendent Richard Rubano and Atty. James Nevant, board solicitor, whittled that down to just $18,028, a settlement the school board approved Monday.
Farrell thought it had verbal permission from the state to launch the program, but the state said no such approval was given.
Liability amount: The state eventually set the amount of district liability at $157,569, but Rubano and Nevant were able to negotiate that down to the $18,028 sum, which will be deducted from next year's state subsidy payment.
The state also eventually approved the program in September 1998 after the district agreed to extend the days of instruction from 136 to 180.
School directors praised Rubano and Nevant for their efforts.
In other matters, the board:
* Voted to give Rubano a five-year contract extension. The old four-year pact expires June 30. Salary and other contract items have yet to be negotiated. His salary this year is $83,000.
* Granted Ronald A. Pendel, business administrator-board secretary, a two-year contract extension beginning July 1. Pendel said he offered to work two more years at the same salary and benefits package, earning $71,660 a year. The extension will take him to age 62, at which time he plans to retire, he said.
* Agreed to put a temporary 2001-02 budget on display for 20 days. Pendel said the board has yet to review the spending plan but will have weekly Tuesday budget meetings beginning next week. The budget shows spending at $10,982,347, an increase of $800,000 over the 2000-01 budget. There is still a $379,575 revenue shortfall, largely attributable to sharp increases in utility costs, Pendel said. No determination has been made on how to cover the shortfall, he said.

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