Montrose school board considering reorganization of district buildings

A row of visitors showed up at the work session before the Montrose School Board meeting Monday at Choconut Elementary School, raising questions about school reorganization rumors circulating in the community.

Superintendent Chris McComb said that he felt it was best to hold an information night at a future date to address the subject of the reorganization of district school buildings, but he wanted to make the point that school building closings are not being considered as the district responds to decreasing population and enrollment.

“There’s a fear among parents that one of the elementary buildings will be closing, and that would be a mistake (for the district) to consider,” McComb said. “There is talk about restructuring the schools…We will have a separate information night on restructuring.

There are significant academic benefits as well as cultural issues to discuss. Any reorganization plans will not be put into effect this coming school year, but possibly in the next year or the one after that.”

McComb said that there are options to consider and that administrators are thinking about having one of the two elementary schools contain kindergarten through second-grade classes while the other would contain third through fifth grades. A middle school could be isolated at the current junior-senior high campus, allowing for a more effective middle school environment.

One parent asked if pre-kindergarten classes could be included, and McComb said that with this model, that could be a possibility.

When asked when the information night would be held, McComb said sooner or later but did not set a date.

During the work session, a presentation on student handbook revisions was given by High School Principal Eric Powers and Assistant Principal Sean Castellani.

Several points of emphasis were addressed regarding changes to the student handbook. These included academic integrity guidelines and specific consequences for cheating and plagiarism; attendance policy and procedures; lunch price changes; a new cell/media device section to specify the appropriate use of these items and responsibilities and repercussions; a change to discipline section emphasizing the importance of signed hall passes; and the new “Safe2Say Something” youth violence prevention program.

The tobacco control policy now addresses vaping and includes altered consequences to reflect the need for the student to attend and be accountable at school. Powers said vaping is particularly problematic because the smokeless devices can also be used for medical marijuana as well as nicotine.  

A tutoring program is now available to students at the high school every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday after school from 2:55-5:10 p.m.

There is a section on the School Resource Officer program, with language taken from the National Association of School Resource Officers.

Also included is a section on the Homeless Education Program, authorized as the McKinney-Vento Act. The MASD Homeless Liaison is Director of Special Education Kelly-Jo Riker, who may be contacted at 570-278-6203.

It was reported that while Montrose’s overall SPP score for attendance is very good at 93 percent, according to the PA Future Ready Index; attendance was only at 79.2 percent last year.

“Twenty-one percent of students missing school, that is a startling number,” Powers said, “But we do have kids out for medical reasons, and the state doesn’t recognize that.”

He said that a significant number of students are missing more than 18 days per year, and that accountability can help with these numbers. ”

Agenda items approved during the regular public meeting:

*minutes as submitted for the June 10 work session and public meeting;

*a list of bills to be paid;

*the May 2019 Treasurer’s Report including the 39 Capital Projects Fund;

*granting permission to Rita C. Allis to upgrade van #21 from a 2011 4- passenger van to a 2018 7-passenger van beginning with the 2019-20 school year;

*approve Daniel Conboy as a substitute transportation driver;

*renew a contract with WVIA’s Enhanced Scholar Program for a three-year contract at $1,140 per year;

*approve an Alternate Education for Disrupted Youth Agreement for Services on an as needed basis with PA Treatment and Healing for 2019-20 school year;

*accept with regret the resignation of Katherine Ford as Assistant Softball Coach retroactive to June 19, 2019;

*accept with regret the resignation of Carrie Scheer, Instructional Support Aide at Lathrop Street Elementary School retroactive to June 10, 2019, and approve her as a substitute for support staff on an as-needed basis beginning with the 2019-20 school year;

*approve Diane Hawley-Wurth as an additional summer 2019 extended school year teacher for a maximum of 20 days (July 8-Aug. 8, 2019 four days per week) 3.5 hours per day at the contracted rate of $30 per hour;

*employ Gloria Dyson as a full-time night custodian at Lathrop Street Elementary School for 8 hours per day, 260 days per year, $11.50 per hour together with benefits in accordance with the current MESPA Collective Bargaining Agreement retroactive to July 1, 2019;

*create one support staff Personal Care Aide position current assignment Lathrop Street Elementary School, effective beginning with the 2019-20 school year, duration of position is dependent upon the continued enrollment of the student.

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