NEW CASTLE New panel to evaluate spending

The teachers union president asked the board to reconsider combining the junior and senior high schools.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- School officials are forming a special committee to make financial recommendations for next year.
The school board named George Gabriel, director of special services, as chairman of the committee, which is expected to evaluate a report the state department of education gave the district earlier this year.
The district asked state officials for an evaluation after determining it would have about a $1 million deficit this year.
Gabriel intends to find parents, teachers, administrators and residents to be part of the committee. He hopes to have their recommendations ready by the end of this school year.
Gabriel said they will focus mainly on the state's recommendations concerning elementary, secondary and special education.
Some of those recommendations included changing instructional programs to reduce the number of teachers, increasing pupil-teacher ratios and cutting some programs.
Combining schools
The school board has already started working on one state recommendation to combine the junior and senior high schools.
Architects have looked at adding new space to the high school now under construction and have gone to the state department of education for official approval of a junior-senior high school.
The district expects to reduce staff and save on utilities with a junior-senior high school.
Phil Lasky, president of the New Castle Federation of Teachers, urged board members to reconsider combining the junior and senior high schools.
"I see what kids are struggling with at age 13 and 14 and I fear these kids will pick up bad habits sooner than their parents want them to [if the schools are combined]," he said.
Board president Lynn Padice asked Lasky if the teachers union has any ideas to help save money if the two are not combined.
Lasky declined to answer.
Board member Peter Yerage noted that parents and teachers should be on the lookout for those youngsters to ensure they don't pick up bad habits.

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