Schools Closing
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The Punxsutawney Area School Board voted 7-2 Wednesday night to close all six elementary schools in the district. Superintendent Tom Lesniewski said this is the final decision in the feasibility study the district has looked at over the past nine months. The middle school will reconfigure into a kindergarten through sixth grade elementary school. Seventh-grade students are scheduled to transfer to the high school. The consolidation will take place in the 2018 2019 school year. West End Elementary School will convert into administration and special education offices. Lesniewski said the renovation project will cost more than $8 million. He said the district expects to save $2.3 million next year. "We don't want to raise your taxes. I live here and I don't want my taxes raised, we can't rely on outside sources as a constant revenue source. We have to have our revenue meet our expenditures and this process is going to be able to help us do that." However, the change will also include furloughing 36 employees. The board voted to offer an early retirement incentive to those who qualify and have been employees for 10 years. Lesniewski says he hopes this option will help with less furloughs. Construction at the high school is expected to be completed this summer, but Lesniewski said there will be some construction finishing up during next school year.