Purchase Line students, parents question new elementary|
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
By Dianne Byers Staff Writer
COMMODORE - With the start of school just more than two weeks away, a parent expressed concern at last night's Purchase Line School Board meeting, her child still doesn't know anything details about his new school.
Dawn Smith of Mahaffey, whose son will be attending Purchase Line Elementary School - created following the board's decision at the end of May to close North Elementary near Mahaffey and merge all students into the former South Elementary located near the high school.
Smith told the board she believes the students need an orientation day to make the transition to a new building as smooth as possible and increase the children's level of comfort.
"Kids are going to walk into a building they know nothing about," she said, adding an official day conducted by the district is necessary.
Smith said she has directed many questions to the district's administration about what she can expect in regards to class size, classroom location, number of students in the cafeteria at lunch and other matters but has received little information. "Our concerns are important to us. We need a solid plan," she said.
Matthew Pearce, board president told Smith, following public comment, her concerns were noted and appreciated but James Stiffler, board member, said later in the meeting following administrator's reports, he too had parents express concerns about a lack of a scheduled formal orientation day.
"We need to do this for the community. We have to open the school and allow the community to come in, if they choose, and interact with the staff. I won't force it but I think it would be a nice gesture."
Tina Hazelet, district superintendent, and Thomas Grierson, newly hired elementary principal, whose first official day on the job is Aug. 27 but was in attendance at last night's board meeting, told the board they had not had time to have a detailed discussion about an orientation. Grierson told board members last night he was totally at the superintendent's disposal as to moving forward with a date for a formal orientation.
Hazelet said last night she would discuss the matter with the board and set a date. She said she would not be available to speak with The Progress about the orientation this morning as she is attending training at Indiana today. A spokesperson for the district noted this morning, the board tentatively set Aug. 27 as the date for an orientation.
No information was available this morning on the times or how parents would be notified.
In a related matter, Janice Pearce, the district's business manager and interim board secretary, reported the district, because of the closing of North Elementary and merging its students into one elementary school, is "undertaking a complete overhaul of its transportation system."
Bus route changes and times students will get on and off the buses will be mailed to parents. Pearce said she hopes the letters would go out by week's end.
In another related matter, Ron Repak, the district's solicitor, reported the board it has three options for disposing of the former North school - a public option, which is his recommendation, sealed bids and a private sale, which he termed the most difficult process, as it would require both a court order and assessment.
The board took no action on his advice last night.
As a follow up to a discussion held at last week's work session on the district's failure to achieve benchmarks for adequate yearly progress on the state's System of School Assessment tests, the board said they want the district's administrators and instructors to anonymously provide comments on why they believe the district's students did not achieve AYP and give a professional opinion on the district's best options for improving the scores.
Hazelet was instructed to get the information from the district's administrative team and provide it to the board at the September meeting so the discussion can be continued.
In other business, the board:
• increased lunch and breakfast prices 15 cents for the 2012-13 school year. Elementary lunch prices were raised to $1.80 each; and high school meals, $2.10 each. Adult lunch prices were retained at $3.75 each. Breakfasts will be $1 each for both elementary and high school students. Adult breakfast prices were increased to $1.65 each.
The board also adopted and agreed to comply with rules, regulations, guidelines and forms for the U.S. and state departments of agricultures' and the state Department of Education's National School Lunch and Breakfast programs for the 2012-13 school year.
• accepted resignations, with regret, from Debra Pearce, head cook, effective Aug. 2 and Kathy Gould, instructional aide, effective Aug. 3. Matt Pearce, board president, said the positions would not be advertised.
• approved parent volunteers for the 2012-13 school year. They are Carrie Ankeny, Karen Bugay, Sandy Fyock, Donna Gearhart, Scott Gearhart, Stephanie Jobe, Lori Lundberg, Barbara Markle, Lovell Rearick, Juliana Scott, Becky Stiffler, Judy Wanchisn and Jackie White.
• hired assistant basketball coaches for the 2012-13 school year. Garrett Burba was named assistant boy's basketball coach and Kelley Goss, assistant girl's basketball coach. Both will be paid a salary of $2,500.
• approved extra-curricular program's volunteers: football, Michael Jarvie and Matthew Kachmarchi; girl's basketball, Erica Fetterman, Rodney Goodlin, Delbert Hudak, Cathy Mumau and Patricia Riva; band, Karen Bugay, Michele Buterbaugh, Mary Connor, Charlene Curry, Dorothy Eyler, Pam Gardner, Donna Gearhart, Scott Gearhart, Sandra Greene, Jeannie Harkleroad, Delbert Hudak, Rebecca Hudak, Jodie Kauffman, Raymond Kauffman, Ronda Leasure, Tammy McGee, Jennifer Patalon, Denise Patrick, Bernadine Peles, Jackie Reinoehl, Dora Smith and Lee Smith; cheerleading, Zaneta Jones and Debra A. Johnson; volleyball, Allison Ball, Eric Ball and Sarah Pack; and cross country, Jordan Alsop, Cody Engle, Erica Fetterman, Raymond Keith and Nicole Barrett Small.
• held a 1-hour executive session for negotiations and personnel matter and after returning to session denied a third-level grievance response submitted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees representing the district's support staff.
• approved Hazelet, James Price, high school principal; Carol Ayers, assistant high school principal, Connie McBroom, supervisor of special education, and Grierson attending teacher effectiveness evaluation training at the ARIN Intermediate Unit No. 28, Indiana, today and tomorrow, at a total cost of $194. The cost will be paid from the Race to the Top grant - funds the district received for education innovation and reform.
• authorized Susan Murray, cafeteria employee, to attend the new school foodservice directors orientation Aug. 22-23 at State College at a cost of $189.
After adjourning the meeting, Pearce said the board would be reconvening for another executive session for personnel matters.