On and Off The Mountain-Stephanie Grubert

School concerns and programs continue in the forefront of Mountaintop area news. The Crestwood School District continues to struggle with cost effective administration with total enrollment declining every year for the past 10 years. As noted in this column last week total current enrollment in Crestwood’s four schools is 2810, a loss of 331 students and 10.5% from the 3141 total enrollment in March 2008. The numbers indicate that as many as 12 teaching positions could be eliminated this year throughout the district’s elementary, middle school and high school populations. State reimbursement subsidies are based on enrollment totals. Taxes finance Pennsylvania schools and the majority of that is from local sources, property and earned income taxes.

Sunrise Special Meeting Early last week the news around town was a special school board meeting set for Thursday morning March 22 at 7 a. m. Hmmm, a sunrise meeting? It has happened before and the Mountaintop Eagle has been cut out of the loop of advising the public. Our reporters had convincing information that the “sunrise meeting” was legitimate and we included the advisement in our March 15 Crestwood School Board meeting coverage and also as a calendar announcement. The newspaper was unable to confirm the meeting’s scheduling.

The March 21 edition was only hours old when the “sunrise meeting” report was denied by Crestwood through their Solicitor Jack Dean.

The Citizens Voice published a denial Tuesday morning March 20: A rumored special meeting of the Crestwood School Board on Thursday morning does not exist “at the moment.”

“At the moment, there is no meeting scheduled,” a secretary to district Superintendent Joseph Gorham said Monday afternoon.

The key word here is “at the moment”. It could have been last week’s predicted fourth Nor’easter that cancelled any possible meeting. A special school board meeting only needs 24-hour notice with a legal notice in a newspaper of general circulation.

Either way the animated three hour board meeting March 15 covered in detail in the Mountaintop Eagle’s last edition will inspire another round at some point to deal with proposed tax increases, teacher furloughs, and enrollment redistribution in the elementary levels.

No-Tuition Preschool

Still on the school topic, last week’s edition featured a story outlining Crestwood’s No-Tuition Preschool Program at Rice and Fairview Elementary Schools for 2018-19. Children ages 3-5 whose families’ incomes qualify are eligible to apply. It is a locally administered type of Head Start program. Children who attend pre-schools, whether private or public have better outcomes as they begin their school years.

Research indicates that children who attend preschool have higher reading and math scores on third grade standardized tests and greater academic success throughout their school careers. Students who attend preschool are less likely to need special education services, to repeat a grade or to drop out of high school, and they have higher salaries over the course of their lives than students who don’t go to preschool.

The cost of educating one student in the Crestwood School District is $14,192.94 per year based on Crestwood’s proposed 2018-19 budget of $39,882,189. Public schools are big business. Extending a helping hand to the youngest students as they enter the system is good business.

With a net enrollment loss of 331 students over the past 10 years there is space in all of Crestwood’s buildings for a government funded preschool program.

Easter Season and Beyond We are hopeful that Easter Sunday will dawn snow free and that a few signs of early spring will be in view. Tom Clark measured 5.9” of new snow last week and a total of 26.2” for March in Mountaintop. Above normal temperatures are predicted as we slide into April and we all hope snow is over.

The Blue Ridge Ladies Golf League is planning to play and meet next week on Tuesday April 2. We’ll all be watching for the green light on that outing. John Kluck, Assistant General Manager at Blue Ridge told me Sunday, “We are hoping to open by the later part of the week. We are getting our maintenance guys on the course for clean up and to assess the condition.”

Blue Ridge almost always opens for at least one day in the month of March. They still have 3 three more days to make that happen.

There were lots of Easter Egg Hunts last weekend. The little ones bundled up in their winter coats, hats and boots to hunt for Easter treasure at several Mountaintop locations. Our veteran photographer John Wengrzynek has been covering the hunts for the past 32 years. John’s artistic eye for composition is one of the Mountaintop Eagle’s trademarks. When the outside weather is compromised John’s hunt for relevant feature photos is challenged. Correspondents Andrea O’Neill and Nicole Barr contribute photos as they make their rounds at public meetings and newsworthy events.

We also thank reader submissions of photos, calendar announcements and publicity for churches, schools and service clubs. The Mountaintop Eagle is a family business.

Coloring Contest Submissions This year’s coloring contest

received over 50 entries! We enjoyed seeing the creativity of our local budding artists. The winners have been awarded their prizes and we hope they enjoy visiting our sponsors including the Crayola Experience, the April 21st Railriders game and getting a bite to eat at Abe’s. The winning masterpieces can be seen on page 11.

Don’t forget we will be holding our Summer Fun Scramble contest in June and our National Ice Cream Month Coloring Contest in July! Details will be published in the paper and on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mountaintopeagle.