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Nazareth to Close Planetarium to Help Reduce Budget Deficit

Nazareth Area School District should save at least $48,000 by closing the high school's planetarium, which needs to be refurbished.

Nazareth Area School District will close the planetarium in the as part of the administration’s plan to reduce the deficit in the projected 2012-2013 district budget.

Also, the union that represents the district’s custodial workers has submitted a proposal to the district, offering unspecified concessions to avoid possible layoffs in a very tight budget year.

Closing the planetarium, which needs to be refurbished and would do away with an elective astronomy course, will allow the district to eliminate one teaching position in the science department at the high school, said Superintendent Victor Lesky at Monday’s meeting of the .

That will likely not necessitate a teacher layoff, though, according to Lesky.

“It looks like this move can be accomplished through attrition,” he said.

“Attrition” in this case means not replacing the position of a teacher who retires at the end of this school year, Lesky said.

The funds that would have been used to refurbish the planetarium will be placed in a fund. That money will be available in future years for district officials to re-evaluate whether to repair the planetarium and revive the astronomy course, Lesky added. The move will save the district at least $48,000, he said.

The projected deficit in the district’s $69.2 million budget for 2012-13 -- which includes a 2 percent property tax increase -- .

It is not clear how much will be saved by the concessions the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters offered on behalf of the 63 district custodial workers it represents.

“The Teamsters presented a proposal with a reduction in their raises for next year,” Lesky said during his report at Monday’s meeting. After the meeting, he declined to provide specifics, noting that the matter is still being negotiated.

The Nazareth Area Education Association (NAEA), which represents the district’s teachers, has not offered concessions on raises or anything else as of Monday, Lesky said.

The school board directed Lesky in January to send letters to the Teamsters and the NAEA, asking the unions to agree to a wage freeze or reduction. Board members that the alternative would likely be furloughs or layoffs.

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