New Castle News

Marcellus Shale

October 11, 2012

Mohawk school board OKs gas lease

NEW CASTLE — The Mohawk school district is getting a windfall of more than $340,000.

The board approved a lease with Shell Oil, accepting $3,250 per acre to lease approximately 105 acres. The five-year, renewable lease agreement also includes royalties of 18 percent and a non-surface drilling agreement.

“If they begin pumping gas under our district, there will be no big drilling rig next to the buildings,” superintendent Kathleen Kwolek said.

The district will receive the leasing fee up front, Kwolek said, but noted board members have not yet determined how it will be spent.

“We’re looking at our infrastructure,” she said, “But this could also be used to reduce our bond debt.”

Board members rejected the request of Cornerstone Construction Management of New Castle for a bonus/performance incentive payment.

The construction company oversaw the 26-month high school renovation from 2007-2010 and was paid $208,000.

As part of the contract, the company could request a bonus payment if all timelines were met, delays avoided and if the project was finished in a timely fashion.

Board members said those conditions had not been met, that the district experienced a six-month delay and “a lot of loose ends” at the end of the project.

The board also:

•Approved the retirement of elementary teacher Margaret Phipps. She will retire Jan. 22, at the end of the semester, after 45 years of teaching.

•Hired Daniel Basso as a special education paraprofessional, Greg Butchelle and Shannon Hudak as part-time cafeteria workers and Mark McCullough as elementary boilerman/custodian.

•Accepted the resignations of special education paraprofessionals Anthony Masello and Patricia Wade.

•Approved a contract with the American Red Cross to use the district’s facilities as a shelter in the event of a disaster.

•Agreed to spend $14,290 to replace the fence around the bus garage parking lot.

•Continued a three-year contract with EduLink for a Pennsylvania Electronic Teacher Evaluation Portal. The district will pay $8,742 for the software. Kwolek said this is the final year of a pilot program, and the costs will be paid through a Race to the Top grant the district received.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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