HOUTZDALE — Moshannon Valley School District residents will have their final opportunity to ask questions about a plan to adopt a unified school day for students in the school district.
At Monday’s Moshannon Valley School Board meeting, members heard a question and answer session has been set for Nov. 6 from 6-6:30 p.m. during the district’s open house.
District Superintendent Dr. John Zesiger said the session would be strictly to hear questions or other aspects that might not have been raised at a public hearing held Sept. 25. No formal presentation will be given.
“In the event any families have additional questions or comments on the new transportation schedule or anything else concerning the proposed change to a single starting time, this will give them a final opportunity to do so before the board votes in either November or December,” he explained. The board must vote no later than January because that is the month when the district confirms transportation and athletic schedules for the coming year.
In a letter sent recently to district families, Dr. Zesiger reported several actions had come from that meeting — including a change to the proposed busing schedule. Dr. Zesiger provided a copy of the new schedule where a 13th combined elementary and high school route has been added for students living in the Ansonville/Madera areas. In the morning, the bus would begin picking up students and 7:13 a.m. and arrive at school by 8:10 a.m. In the evening, the bus would depart from the school at 3:05 p.m. and drop off the last student by 3:58 p.m.
In his letter to parents, Dr. Zesiger said, “(The district) has been able to add an additional bus at no extra cost by more strategically using the Clearfield County Career and Technology Center bus. As a result, the length of time some students are on buses has been reduced significantly.”
Dr. Zesiger said at the initial public hearing and in numerous calls and emails received by the district in the days, residents and parents overwhelmingly said, for bus routes with separate runs, they wanted secondary students to leave after elementary school-aged students and arrive home prior to them so that older siblings could be home to watch younger siblings. He said the new busing arrangement reflects that change.
The final revision is for the district’s collaboration center to be open and staffed for several hours following the conclusion of the school day. In Dr. Zesiger’s letter, he told parents the center will be open Monday through Thursday from 3-7 p.m. each day.
“This will provide a safe, supervised location for students who remain after school for academic help or participate in after-school activities or events, a place to work on homework or entertain themselves until their families are able to pick them up after school,” he explained.
Dr. Zesiger noted, “As highlighted in the presentation, the long-term financial benefits of moving to a single start time in conjunction with (the district’s) declining enrollment, which reduces its state subsidy, projected increases in economically disadvantaged households, and a shrinking tax base makes this transition important for the school district.”
Approximately 40 parents attended the public hearing on Sept. 25. At that time, results of several feasibility studies on student instruction, athletics and school safety were presented along with a proposed plan to consolidate school day starting and ending times.
The proposed plan includes a school day from 8:10 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. for all students. The plan would have high school students attending school about 30 minutes later than they currently do and elementary school students would be dismissed 25 minutes earlier than they currently are. The district’s goal is to have students picked up no earlier than 7 a.m. and home by 4 p.m.