Panama To Begin $4.9M Fine Payment In 2014

PANAMA-The Panama Central School district will make the first payment on its $4.9 million state fine in June of next year.

Recently, the Panama Board of Education discussed the district’s receipt of an official notice of state general aid takeback for the fine.

The fine was placed on the district for paperwork errors that occurred nearly a decade ago, when the district failed to file capital project final cost reports. In working with state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, the district was able to obtain an agreement with the Education Department to spread the payment of the penalty amount over a 10-year period.

As part of budget negotiations between Young and the state, Panama was awarded a grant of $500,000 to assist with the first year of payments. The general state aid takeback will return the $500,000 grant to the state.

“It’s almost like double taxation,” said Bert Lictus, Panama superintendent, in a previous interview. “The taxpayers have to pay up $500,000 to pay back the taxpayers.”

In other business, the board approved a new capital project to replace the staircase in the school’s pool wing. Lictus reported the process to demolish and replace the stairs would be started and completed by the beginning of the school year next month.

Current construction on the school’s front entryway was said to be on schedule, and will provide for easier maintenance in the future.

The condition of the track was also discussed, along with different options to resolve the application and warranty work on the track. According to Lictus, the district is not satisfied with the quality of workmanship that was done to repair the track last fall.

“(The track) was relined and resprayed because it appears there was some weathering. It appears, when they relined it, they didn’t get it on consistently, and the lines don’t look exact. So, we’re having discussions on how to proceed,” said Lictus.

Gregory Hudson, board member, volunteered to be Panama’s legislative liaison for the Chautauqua County School Boards Association. Other appointments included Elley Trubic as a substitute UPK-12th-grade teacher, in accordance with the provisions of the SAVE legislation.

The first reading of changes to several policies was administered. The second and third readings were waived, and the changes were approved by the board. The policies affected were: code of conduct on school property; the Dignity for All Students Act; Dignity Act complaint form; and Civility, Citizenship and Character Education/Interpersonal Violence Prevention Education.