Brookville Area School Board Approves Book Club

BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – The Brookville Area School Board on August 17 approved a high school book club after several minutes of debate over the nature and costs of student clubs.

The discussion began when board member Frank Bartley noted the request for the book club was a last-minute addition to the meeting agenda.

A high school teacher submitted the request, as the school didn’t have a book club.

Clubs must have a teacher to serve as adviser and remain active, reporting monthly after meetings.

Bartley asked for information on the cost to the district to pay an adviser, which is done as a supplemental teacher contract.

“This is new. I’m all for reading books. I like them, but none of us knew anything about this. We have to consider the remuneration. We approve this to put the club into existence, but we also get to decide who advises it,” Bartley said.

Cost Concerns

Board president Kerith Strano-Taylor said the adviser will earn $562.00 for the year.

“This is for meetings once per week, monthly activities, and more,” Strano-Taylor said.

Board member Mike Smith expressed concern over the district’s costs associated with the new book club.

“While reading is very worthwhile, I distinctly remember reading in the paper about trying to keep the programs as-is. So while $562.00 isn’t much, it adds up, and if we add more clubs, it keeps going,” Smith said.

He pointed out the costs of employee pensions continue to rise each year. He added the district has many low-income residents, yet the board may need to consider raising taxes next year.

“I don’t think I need to remind anyone Brookville (Area) is at almost 50 percent for free and reduced lunches, and many people are not doing well, in case most here don’t know it, and I just can’t see adding more because it’s been said if we keep programs as-is, that helps. Where is the money coming from if we don’t?” Smith said.

It was suggested to make the clubs self-sustaining by raising their own funds, but district principal Ruthanne Barbazzeni said that isn’t possible because all funds raised by students must go back into the activities of the club.

“This Is Exactly What We’re Here For”

Strano-Taylor said she supports the book club.

“It offers an opportunity to read and discuss a book at a level that unfortunately our students don’t have the luxury of doing in class anymore. If we have a teacher and students who want to spend their time reading by choice and being able to dive into literature and really get a deeper understanding of it, for $562.00 per year, I think this is exactly what we’re here for. If our kids are reading extra and learning, that is the whole goal. They should leave here with more of an experience, and reading better is on the top of that list,” Stano-Taylor said.

She pointed out the cost is low compared to other activities paid for by taxpayer dollars.

“There are a lot of things that we are not actually here for, but we still do because they are important for the community and I support it wholeheartedly, but we’re an educational institution. When it comes to education, a book club for $562.00 per year is nothing when we look at the amount of money we pay for sports. No offense to sports, I am a big supporter, but the amount of money per student we cover is really high. If we’re going to examine costs, we need to look at how much it is per student and go from there, and I’m hoping if we do, we’re not looking to start cuts with a book club for $562.00,” Strano-Taylor said.

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