BY STACI WILSON
Superintendent Chris McComb took the helm Monday evening in his first meeting in his new position with the Montrose Area School District.
McComb, the former principal of Choconut Valley Elementary, replaced Carol Boyce, who retired at the end of the school year.
Some changes were made to the way the board conducts the business meeting, with committee chairs now reading the agenda items up for approval. Previously, the board had typically approved the slate of items on the agenda in one motion, pulling out items they wished to vote on separately.
Jr/Sr High School Principal Eric Powers presented the board with information regarding changes to the student handbook.
Powers said that there are not many changes in the student handbook, but language was included to reflect dual enrollment credit opportunities.
He also said the attendance policy in the handbook reflected that the district is in compliance with regulations.
The student handbooks and planners, as well as faculty handbooks are done “in-house,” Powers noted, which is a money-saver for the district.
Assistant Principal Sean Castellani provided an update to the board on the revised dress code.
Changes to the dress code, he said, came from a committee comprised of students, parents, administrators and staff.
The updated dress code, Castellani said, is clear and concise with no gender bias. “It provides enough freedom but keeps within the rigors of the school,” he said.
He said he wanted to dress code update done prior to families heading out to purchase school clothes. Castellani also said he would like to send the information out in a mailer along with other items sent out before the start of the school year.
Powers also reported that the district was receiving some of its testing data. PSSA Math and Science is in, he said, but ELA reports have been delayed statewide. Keystone Exam data was received on Friday, July 6 but has not really been reviewed yet, he said.
Principal Greg Adams told the board he feels a bit like a “fish out of water” following the longtime Lathrop Street principal’s move to Choconut Valley Elementary. He has also been working with new Karen Ricci, who is taking over as the new principal at Lathrop Street Elementary.
The board also discussed school safety – with Superintendent McComb offering up information on the newly passed Senate Bill 1142 and its requirements.
He said a administrator will need to be appointed by the board to serve in the capacity of the School Safety Administrator. He also said several surveys and assessments need to be completed with timelines set by the state.
He also said the state has established $60 million to be available in grant funding for school safety programs, but noted the funds could only be used to supplement programs and not supplant funding.
One audience member asked about the ongoing discussion regarding the possibility of hiring a School Resource Officer in the district.
Boardmember John Wood said he hoped there would be some kind of resolution reached by the August meeting.
McComb said the district is providing the county district attorney’s office with some modifications to the proposed contract based on concerns voiced by board members. The proposed changes had not yet been submitted to the county he said.
Audience members also asked questions about what the SRO position would entail.
McComb said there are still “a lot of unanswered questions” the district was working through in order “to make the best possible decision.”
The topic brought about discussion of overall safety and security plans in the district. The board discussed holding a parent night to discuss some of the measures that have already been taken.