Montrose school board talks changes in elementary “specials” schedule

The Montrose Area School Board heard from several district parents at Monday night’s meeting regarding changes being made to the special classes offered in the district’s elementary schools. Special classes include physical education, art and music.

In a public message posted on the district website, Superintendent Chris McComb wrote: “Changes for next year will modify the schedule we use, but this schedule will address concerns that have been brought up about equity and the number of classes students receive between our elementary buildings.”

In the message, he also noted declining district enrollment of nearly 40 percent since 2000, and said the change is consistent with other districts in the county. “Our plan will provide five specials on a rotating basis. Each week every elementary student will be provided physical education, art, music, computers and STEAM,” he wrote.

One audience member at Monday night’s meeting said the inclusion of STEAM comes at a detriment to other subject matter.

The audience member said she was concerned about students’ mental health and that the district was “taking away creative outlets” like music, art and physical education in favor of technology.

McComb disagreed, “It is a way to se technology effectively and understand the purpose of technology.”

Discussion in the work session prompted by audience remarks also centered around school safety, including proposed pay increases for school resource officers.

Budget Approved

The board gave its approval to the 2022-23 final expense budget in the amount of $27,869,923, with holding steady at 50.2319 mills.

The Homestead Farmstead exclusion was set at $9,449 and approved property owners will see a $474.66 reduction in their school tax bills this year.

Business Manager Michelle Lusk said the district received additional gaming revenue from the state that allowed for an additional $100 to be taken off the tax bills.

Board members gave the green light for the purchase of new band uniforms, up to $35,000. Uniforms have not been replaced since the mid-1990s.

The district is also moving forward with the creation of a more modern and mobile-friendly website. The board ratified a five-year agreement with Finalsite for website development services and management platform, at a cost of $5,600 per year, with a one-time set up fee of $5,000.

Retiring transportation contractors Bill Goff and Cliff and Dawn Taylor were thanked for their years of service to the district.

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