BY STACI WILSON
The Montrose School Board eliminated the writing lab aide position at the high school – a position that has been in place for the past 17 years.
A representative of the teachers’ union went on the record to voice her opposition to the move, saying the presence of the aide benefits both the students and staff. “I believe the loss of the support staff position is a direct loss to the students and faculty,” she said.
Although the title of writing lab aide was abolished at the Aug. 11 meeting, the support staff position remains in place under the title of “instructional aide.”
The board re-assigned Lori Lass from the position of writing lab aide to instructional aide beginning with the new school term.
Lass, who was present at the meeting, said, “After 17 years I find it disheartening that I was not ever contacted to discuss this change. Positions are not just a black and white thing on a page but living, breathing people.”
She said she hoped the “next person” would receive proper communication and “a little respect” adding she had been contacted by a co-worker who had looked at the meeting agenda on-line prior to Monday evening.
Superintendent Carol Boyce explained the writing lab aide title was not a recognized position within the district covered in the contract and the duties closely aligned to that of “instructional aide.”
She said the change gives the district more flexibility in the staff member’s assignment to work with a revised writing and reading curriculum being implemented at the high school.
“It will intensify writing instruction, offer more flexibility with support staff and be in compliance with the contractual positions,” Boyce said, summarizing the reasons behind the change. There will be no reduction in salary or hours, according to the superintendent.
Assistant High School Principal Eric Powers detailed some of the changes made to the high school reading and writing curriculum.
Powers said data gleaned from the PSSA tests has been used to loosely sort seventh graders into reading classes.
The data has also been analyzed, Powers said, to group eighth graders into prep classes – with a team teaching approach to be utilized for lower performers and more enrichment learning for the advanced learners.
Powers said the classes will not be “just PSSA prep” but will also have room to improve writing skills.
The board accepted, with regret, the resignation of School Director and Board President Chris Caterson, effective July 1.
Caterson was recently appointed to serve on the Susquehanna County Planning Commission.
Board Vice President Douglas Wilcox was appointed to serve as the acting board president and policy committee chair until the board reorganization meeting in December.
Gregory Sheer was appointed by the board to serve as the Region 2 school director, effective immediately, and until the 2015 reorganization.
If interested in retaining the seat beyond that point, Sheer will be required to run in the 2015 municipal election.
Region 2 covers Franklin, Liberty and Bridgewater townships.
The oath of office was administered to Sheer by Wilcox at the end of the board meeting.
In other business, Mary Homan and Wilcox were appointed to serve as the board’s voting delegates in the PSBA Delegate Assemble, Oct. 21 during the School Leadership Conference to be held in Hershey.
Summer transportation contracts were approved retroactive to July 7 for a combined total cost of about $34,463.
Bus route 30 will transfer from D&J Transportation LLC to James and Jane Conboy, effective at the beginning of the school year.
The board also approved advertising for bids for the replacement of photocopy machine equipment. The current contract expires in December.
Business director Michelle Lusk said, along with IT Director Craig Owens, would have a recommendation to the board for the October meeting.
A dual enrollment agreement with Lackawanna College was approved.
The board also approved a new, tech prep, dual enrollment offering with the Pennsylvania College of Technology, retroactive to May 22.
Extracurricular appointments included:
*Jon Carpenter, school newspaper adviser;
*Duane Benedict, yearbook adviser.
The board also accepted with regret, the resignations of coaches, Quinn Dempsey, assistant soccer coach; and Barry Wheaton, assistant golf coach.
The board also accepted, with regret, the resignations of Cynthia Stang and Tiffany Morgan, both from the food service department; and Anne Mitteman, an instructional aide at Lathrop Street Elementary.
Amy Lott was hired as a part-time food service worker, contingent upon completion of employment requirements.
A number of school policies were approved for the first reading, with the board planning to finalize changes at the September meeting.
The proposed changes to the policies are available on the school website.
Wilcox said the changes come from recommendations from PSBA.
Bridget Merritt will serve as the Foreign language chairperson.
The board approved employing Donna Fassler, French; and Melanie Major, learning support, as half-time teachers at the Junior-Senior High School.