SAEGERTOWN — Proposed budget cuts involving guidance counselors and assistant principals filled the cafeteria at Saegertown Elementary School with people eager to share their thoughts with members of PENNCREST School Board Tuesday night.

On the table is are plans to eliminate guidance counselors for PENNCREST School District’s fifth-, sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders and cut elementary-level assistant principals from 12-month to 10-month positions.

Just as a plan to eliminate the district’s boys’ soccer program filled the room with parents and soccer players during the board’s work session Monday night, the elimination of transitional counselor positions brought out educators raising objections.

Cindy Johnson, the fifth- and sixth-grade guidance counselor at Maplewood Elementary School and seventh- and eighth-grade guidance counselor at Maplewood High School, told the board that it is “now considering eliminating a significant part of the middle-school concept.

“Having a counselor at the elementary school who follows the students to high school is wonderful,” said Ann Zurasky, speaking as a district mother who also teaches learning support at Maplewood High School. “Cutting these services would be deleterious to our students.”

“I hope that if you need to cut staff, you will look at administrative positions,” said David Geiger, president of PENNCREST Area Education Association. After the meeting, Geiger observed that PENNCREST is the only school district in Crawford County with assistant principals in its elementary schools.

Saegertown Elementary School Principal Tom Miller told the board that the district’s administrative team supports cutting the three elementary assistant principals from 12-month to 10-month positions. However, he urged the board to not eliminate the positions altogether.

“It’s much harder to be a principal than it was in the 1980s,” he said as he handed each board member a list detailing the responsibilities of elementary school principals. “I’m retiring this year,” he said. “I can’t do it anymore. But without my assistant principal, my heart and my blood pressure would probably have done me in.”

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at

what to watch for next

PENNCREST School Board meets Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Saegertown Elementary School cafeteria for its regularly-scheduled monthly meeting. A special meeting to approve the district’s 2006-07 budget is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on June 29 in the district’s administration office in Saegertown. According to Vice President Chad Templin, an additional budget session may be scheduled before the June 29 meeting, although a date and time have not been set.

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