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Montrose Area School Board will be adding to its March agenda a motion to place a referendum question regarding a tax shift to the minimum personal income tax allowable under Act 1 on the May 15 ballot. This decision, made at the February 12 meeting, was far from unanimous.
Two questions were posed to the board members for discussion and decision. One regarded whether or not they wanted to follow the tax study commission's recommendation that the district shift to an earned income tax (EIT) instead of a personal income tax (PIT). The second involved whether they wanted to follow the commission's recommendation that they pursue the minimum rather than maximum rate.
Various board members had differing opinions and concerns regarding these two questions. Some wanted to stick with the commission's recommendations. Others wanted to opt for a PIT. It was mentioned that at the time the commission made their recommendation it looked as if there would be no means of collecting an EIT, which might have influenced their decision. Both Mr. Caterson and Mr. Gow expressed disapproval of the program in general. Mr. Caterson advocated pursuit of a PIT because it does not tax the elderly for social security or pensions. It only taxes dividends, which most older residents do not exclusively live on. Mr. Sives also recommended the PIT because he felt it taxed people more fairly. Mrs. Ridler mentioned the cost of tax collection, which, it was clarified later, might have to be absorbed by the district. Mrs. Mordavancey expressed concern that the public might vote under the mistaken belief that collected money would go to the school. In actuality it would not, as dollar for dollar what comes in goes out for use elsewhere. It was also pointed out that although this tax-shift would be used to relieve real estate taxes for those who qualify, even this promise of relief could be misleading. With the way the rates and reductions are set up, in certain circumstances people with a household income at a certain level over $27,000 could end up paying out more than their reduction. Someone mentioned that the governor, when speaking publicly about this, does not use the word “save,” he uses words like “tax-shift” or “reduction.” In the end, the minimum PIT passed in a 5-3 vote. This would apply to all residents of the district, regardless of work location. It will now be placed on the agenda for the next meeting, a meeting which cannot be closed unless a majority consensus is reached there as well. The board's intent will be advertised, and a public hearing held. The board is required to do something with the act unless the public votes it down in May. A few of the board members expressed their hope that this is what will happen.
Much also happened at the meeting not having to do with taxes. A new employee handbook has been created, and will be distributed to staff. Approval was given to hire a JV softball coach. The team has been so large that many girls have seen limited playing time. The JV team would be formed in an attempt to rectify this, and improve the experience for students. Also approved was the start of an intramural girls' volleyball team. The start of a volleyball program is expensive; therefore the program will begin at the intramural level in order to assess genuine interest and commitment.
The district also accepted with regret the resignation for purposes of retirement of Thomas George. Mr. George has been a geography educator at the Junior-Senior High School. He will be greatly missed.
A policy which brought an incensed parent to a previous meeting has been altered. The mother was angry that her child was denied the food on his tray due to a negative cafeteria balance. Within food services an administrative step has been added, so that now when a student's account reaches -$2.50, personal contact is made with parents or guardians via a phone call. If the problem continues beyond that, the students go to Mr. Tallarico who has a special fund set up to assist them. Since these changes, it was reported, there have been no more incidents like the one aforementioned.
This meeting, however, brought forth another concerned parent. This time it was the student newspaper which was a cause for concern, more specifically two articles within it. The first was an exposé on the existence of “friends with benefits” relationships in the junior and senior high school. The mother felt that it was not appropriate content for a school newspaper, and that the beginning of the article glorified the behavior. Not until near the end was the other side of the issue discussed, and then not equally. Nowhere in the article, she explained, was it described as destructive behavior, nor did it mention where one could go for help with the issue. Mr. Ognosky cited a board commitment, made about six years ago, that the Chronicle would be a voice for the district. The board puts its trust in the journalism advisor, and does not censor the articles so long as laws are obeyed, etc. They do get the articles to read before it is printed. The students were given some rules, that they not target or talk about anyone in particular, and they have not crossed them. He stated that this is only the fourth or fifth article in the intervening years which has pushed the edge. Mrs. Ridler expressed her opinion that it is important for the students to have a means of expression. She said that parents wouldn't know what was going on if they hid their heads in the sand, and that the paper does a great service in informing them. Another board member reported having asked his daughter about her relationships after reading the article; it was uncomfortable to read but fostered communication. It was mentioned that this is a prevalent phenomenon, existing in other schools as well. Mr. Ognosky said that he would speak with the students as to what thoughts went behind writing it, and their purpose in doing so.
The second article questioned was written about poor behavior amongst the seventh graders. Three educators were quoted discussing classroom disruptions and difficulty in effectively running their classrooms due to discipline issues. The mother, who has a seventh grade daughter, questioned why she was only learning of this situation halfway through the year, by means of the newspaper. She did ask her daughter about it, and was told that it might be a factor in at least one of the classes she is having trouble with. She also felt that it was improper to make such a blanket statement, as not all seventh grade students were being disruptive. She had tried to contact Mr. Tallarico, but through the fault of neither had yet to make connection. Mr. Ognosky stated that no one had previously come to him regarding the situation. None of the educators quoted had talked to him about the situation, though he had observed each of them. None of the principals were interviewed by the newspaper. He said that he would talk with the newspaper advisor and staff regarding this article as well, and why the principals were not interviewed. If such a widespread behavior problem is found, the school will take measures to alleviate it.
For the first time, taxpayers in the Forest City Regional School District will have a voice in a proposed school tax increase before the increase can take place.
Voters will be asked if they favor imposing an additional one percent earned income tax. At the present time, residents of the school district pay one percent wage tax, and that is split between the school and the municipality, if the municipality also a wage tax. If the municipality does not have a wage tax, the one percent goes to the school district.
The additional one percent to be voted on in May would go to the school district and would be used to reduce taxes on qualified residential properties by approximately $273. Most of the tax rebates would go to senior citizens.
In another financial move at last week’s meeting, the board approved a preliminary 2007-2008 budget totaling $10.9 million. Early passage of the budget gives the district an opportunity to submit the budget to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to show that the district has not exceeded the 4.6 percent maximum tax increase set by PDE. Final action on the budget will take place in June.
If the budget is approved as presented, real estate taxes to support it will increase by 4.6 percent in Forest City, Union Dale and Herrick Township; 3.8 percent in Vandling; and, 3.1 percent in Clinton II and Pleasant Mount. The adjusted millage will be 34.58 in Forest City, Union Dale and Pleasant Mount, up from the current 32.7 mills; 84.6 in Vandling where the current millage is 84.6; and, in Clinton II and Pleasant Mount, from the current 12.2 mills to 12.58 mills.
As has become the custom, the board opened its meeting by recognizing the Student of the Month. For February the award went to Christopher Nebzydoski.
Motions approved by the board completed the following business:
-reappointed the six tax collectors in the district as delinquent per capita tax collectors.
-exonerated the tax collectors for real estate tax collections as follows: Forest City, 65 properties totaling $45,691; Union Dale, 19 properties totaling $8,900; Herrick Twp., 39 properties totaling $31,669; Vandling, 32 properties totaling $21,421; Clinton II, 64 properties totaling $58,412; and, Pleasant Mount, 122 properties totaling $129,518.
-increased the number of hours for the nurse’s assistant from 4 to 5.5 per day.
-appointed Michael Heck as varsity softball coach.
-added the following individuals to the list of substitute teachers: Shannon Lynn Calafut, Marissa Laibinis, Mary Jo Price, Robert Susman, and, Erica Lea Wagner.
Parents' expectations of what a school board does, and should do, was the subtext of the February 12 Mt. View School board meeting. First Vice-President John Halupke presided, as Board President James Zick was not in attendance.
The second and final Hearing of Visitors brought a number of questions from the attending public, and a lengthy discussion about the graduation project students must prepare over the course of their four years of high school. Corinna Kinney started by asking when yearbooks are coming out, and why it took so long this year. Acting High School Principal Vagni responded by saying that the yearbooks will probably be out in April. The reason for the delay was that the representative of the yearbook company working with the school had given the school outdated information regarding specs for the page size. The entire yearbook had to be re-done to the correct size. This caused the delay. The faculty advisor now has a year's experience doing the yearbook and will be better able to guide the process next year.
Ms. Kinney also brought up the graduation projects and asked for clarification on the appeal process if the project is found to be failing, or a portion of it is not acceptable. Presiding President Halupke said that the Board does not change administration procedures, and sets policy with the administration's input. Ms. Vagni said there is a "feedback form" now in use so that students and parents can communicate with the student's advisors and mentors before their presentation to correct or improve parts of the individual's project. Board member Kevin Griffiths challenged the assertion that the mentoring was sufficient, as he had heard from some parents that their child was not receiving the necessary assistance. He thought the mentoring should be one-on-one, not the group effort it is now. Ms. Vagni defended the process, stating that there are "different concepts" between mentors and students as to what is expected and how much mentors are allowed to help. Ms. Vagni said part of the process is to get students to think independently and to explore different venues of research. A number off parents attending thought the process was flawed, leaving the students uncertain about goals and expectations. Acting Board President Halupke offered that "better guidelines " should be in place during the length of the entire process.
The School Board moved steadily through the first part of the agenda, passing all the Finance Committee's recommendations. The last item of the Finance portion of the agenda authorized the May 15 ballot question and resolution levying and assessing the Act 1 Income Tax, if approved by voters and proper procedure is followed.
The Personnel Committee's turn on the agenda also flowed smoothly, with all items being passed unanimously by the Board members present.
During the Principal's Comments part of the agenda, Acting High School Principal, Ms. Eliza Vagni informed the Board that there would be a meeting on February 21 with teachers to discuss regulating e-mails from parents. Teachers are apparently being overwhelmed with the number of e-mails to them that require their response. The time it takes for teachers to respond to all the emails is placing additional constraints on their work time. Ms. Vagni invited interested Board members to the meeting on the 21st.
Next up was the Education Committee. The lengthy number of items was dealt with summarily, including approval for Concurrent Enrollment Agreements for the Dual Enrollment Grant Application with the University of Scranton, the Pennsylvania State University, Marywood University, and Keystone College. This is for students to attend the above higher education schools and receive college credits for their efforts.
Asbestos removal bids would be opened on Thursday, February 15 at 1 pm. Board members were questioned by the public as to when actual removal would take place. Board member Nate Tompkins, chair of the Building and Site Committee, responded that June is the target date for removal, barring unforeseen circumstances or glitches in the bidding.
Under new business, Corey Gesford was not approved to be a volunteer assistant basketball coach for the remainder of the season, by a vote of 5 to 2 against.
Ronald L. Smith, Ellen A. Smith to Arthur A. Borin, Jr., Goshen, NY, Karen Borin, in Bridgewater Township for $314,000.
Maryann B. Wee (aka) Maryann A. Wee, Abelardo S. Wee to Manzek Land Co., Inc., RR5, Montrose, in Auburn Township for $350,000.
Kenneth L. Bennett (trust by trustee), Betty Lou Bennett (trust by trustees) to Daniel J. Bennett, Harford, Mary Ellen Bennett, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Dorothy Ellen Rought (estate) (aka) Dorothy E. Rought (estate) aka Dorothy R. Rought (estate) to Terry L. Rought, RR1, Susquehanna, in Jackson Township for one dollar.
Robert S. Rhodes (trust by trustees), Torunn T. Rhodes, Erik S. Rhodes, Kristen L. Rhodes to Robert S. Rhodes (trust), Hanover, NH, in Ararat Township for one dollar.
Thomas Robinson, Alberta Robinson to American General Consumer Discount Company, Susquehanna, in Ararat Township for one dollar.
Donald S. Serafin to Donald S. Serafin, Durham, NC, Patricia Serafin, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
J. Parker Properties Inc. to John P. Watts, RR1, Montrose, Laura A. Watts, in Brooklyn Township for one dollar.
Edward Green (aka) Edward Greene Jr., Edward B. Greene III to Edward Greene (aka) Edward Greene, Jr., in Harmony Township for one dollar.
John A. Shobat (estate) (aka) John Shobat (estate) to Donald L. Richardson, Hallstead, in New Milford Township for $6,500.
John P. Kantz, Kristina A. Kantz to Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., Houston, TX, in Springville Township for $10,000.
Zechary Grant to Zechary Grant, Corbin City, NJ, Allison M. Faralli, in Little Meadows Borough for one dollar.
Philip J. Pass, Jr., Lauri A. Pass to Richard R. Soland, Port Charlotte, FL, Kim E. Soland, in Ararat Township for $70,000.
Raymond G. Sheridan, Jr. to Joseph A. Applegate, RR3, Susquehanna, Annette E. Applegate, in Susquehanna for $30,000.
Raymond G. Sheridan, Jr. to Joseph A. Applegate, RR2, Susquehanna, Annette Applegate, in Lanesboro Borough for $50,000.
Jeffrey T. Haberle, Colleen Haberle, Neway Homes to Richard P. Turamicza, North Brunswick, NJ, in Franklin Township for $37,000.
George Robinson, Catherine Robinson to George S. Robinson Lifetime Trust Number One (by trustee), Oneonta, NY, in Jackson Township for one dollar.
Glenn L. Harvey, Teresa C. Harvey to Lawrence Kevin O’Connor, Lansdale, Carol C. O’Connor, in Springville Township for $100,000.
Jonathan W. Taylor, Linda D. Taylor to Joshua Elliott, Little Meadows, in Apolacon Township for $45,000.
Caroline L. Small (trustee by trustees) to Deborah Adoff, Sicklerville, NJ, Brenda Brown, in Ararat Township for one dollar.
Daniel E. Beddoe, Susan M. Beddoe to Susan M. Beddoe, RR1, Hallstead, in Liberty Township for one dollar.
David Oney, Susan Oney to David W. Oney, RR1, Hallstead, Susan A. Oney, in Liberty Township for one dollar.
Dewey G. Lyon, Marlene Lyon to Dewey G. Lyon, RR1, Hallstead, Marlene Lyon, George E. Lyon, in Liberty Township for one dollar.
Ira A. Graves, Frances M. Graves to Tina M. Graves, Susquehanna, Patrick J. Graves, in Lanesboro Borough for one dollar.
John C. McNamara, Phillis Brown McNamara to Francis J. Klein, RR2, Brackney, Beth A. Klein, F. David Klein, Julianna M. Klein, Gary H. Gunn, Jacquelyn Gunn, in Silver Lake Township for $9,000.
Mark A. Singer, Cheryl K. Singer (aka) Cheryl K. Oakley to Mark A. Singer, RR7, Montrose, in Bridgewater Township for one dollar.
Richard Masters (aka) Richard S. Masters, Eloise W. Masters to Joyce Berish, Kingsley, Mary Jacqueline Phillips, in Harford Township for one dollar.
Brian W. Teel, Kelly B. Teel to Larry Mindlin, Rahway, NJ, Nancy Mindlin, in Auburn Township for $165,000.
Joseph Dougherty, Peggy Dougherty to Ronald J. Fortunato, Warminster, Diane Fortunato, in Harmony Township for $159,000.
Richard J. Oliver (by sheriff) (aka) Richard J. Olver (by sheriff) to Fannie Mae, Philadelphia, in Forest Lake Township for $2,778.
A 1994 Nissan Sentra was stolen from the rear parking lot of the VFW in Great Bend on February 10, at around 10 p.m. The owner, George Richardson, Jr., had gone outside and started the vehicle to let it warm up before going home after a meeting. He returned minutes later, and it was gone. The vehicle is a dark blue sedan bearing PA license #GNG9341.
On February 11, Jon Ambler of Piperville, PA discovered that he had received a counterfeit twenty dollar bill. The investigation is continuing.
1 VEHICLE ACCIDENT
On February 7, Phyllis Hibbard and her toddler daughter were involved in an accident near the entrance to Little Elk Lake in Dimock Township. The accident occurred as Hibbard was driving west on SR 3023, traveling down a hill, and approaching a left curve. She turned around to tend to the child in the rear passenger seat and in so doing lost control on the curve. In trying to keep the vehicle from going off the road she over-steered, causing it to slide across the road and strike an embankment on the south side of the roadway. After impact the vehicle continued up the bank and east along the roadway, coming to rest on the embankment approximately 10 ft. from the road surface. Hibbard was wearing a seatbelt and her daughter was in a child seat; there were no injuries.
On January 31, the Pump N' Pantry in Montrose reported a drive-off for ten dollars. The situation was resolved a few days later after the person returned to pay for the gas, having realized that they failed to do so by mistake.
Unknown actor(s) stole the a mailbox belonging to Charles Jaget of Susquehanna. The mailbox resembles a lighthouse, and was taken from the bottom of his driveway. It is valued at $90.
On February 4, Kenroy Gardener of Brooklyn, NY was driving a 2002 Nissan Altima SDN south on SR 0081 when the vehicle caught on fire. Though the vehicle sustained severe fire damage, Gardener was not injured.
On February 3 at 1 a.m. Mathew Purdy was traveling south on SR 3001 (The Elk Lake Road) in Bridgewater Twp. His vehicle lost traction on a snow covered curve in the roadway, exited the lanes of travel, and impacted with a group of trees. Purdy left the scene prior to police response.
1 VEHICLE ACCIDENT
On February 3, Lynn Ross was driving on SR 0374 in Lenox Twp. when she lost control of her Firebird on a snow/ice covered roadway. The vehicle struck the end of a guard rail and then traveled down an embankment before coming to rest in a creek. Ross was uninjured; she was wearing her seatbelt and her airbag deployed.
1 VEHICLE ACCIDENT
On February 1, an eighteen-year old female was traveling south on SR 2015 in Brooklyn Twp. She began to negotiate a left curve in the roadway and hit a patch of road cinders on the road, causing her to lose control of the vehicle. It started to spin clockwise and then slid backwards off the roadway into a ditch, which in turn caused it to flip onto its roof and come to a rest in a cornfield 25 feet from the road. The driver was not wearing her seatbelt and sustained moderate injuries. She was cited for driving with a learner's permit.
1 VEHICLE ACCIDENT (ROLLOVER)
On February 1, around 4:35 p.m., Joanne Santoriello of Kingsley was driving south on SR 167 in Bridgewater Twp. While negotiating a downhill left curve in the roadway, a low shoulder caused her Grand Am to leave the road surface and strike an embankment. This in turn caused the vehicle to swing to its right and become airborne. It then rolled over twice before coming to rest on its passenger side, facing north along the right shoulder. Santoriello was wearing her seatbelt.
THEFT OF A MOTOR VEHICLE
Sometime during the night between January 31 and February 1, one or more unknown people removed a vehicle belonging to Amy Lynn Engelman from her driveway on Albert Jennings Road in Springville Twp. The vehicle, a red 2005 Ford Escape, was later found on SR 29 across from Lake Walters.
It was alleged that, on January 27 around 11:30 p.m., Eulogio Valasquez (20) of Meshoppen, PA struck a juvenile female (16). A police investigation was conducted and the accused was charged with PACC 1701 Simple Assault. He was arraigned on January 29, and bail was set at $10,000 or 10%. He is currently incarcerated in the Susquehanna County Correctional Facility in lieu of bail.
FATAL TRAFFIC ACCIDENT
On February 4, at approximately 11:50 p.m., Milton Mock, Sr. of Little Meadows, PA was traveling south on SR 858. He lost control of his vehicle around a left-hand curve and traveled off of the roadway, onto the east berm. Impact occurred as the right side door area struck a tree. The truck immediately came to a rest after impact. Mock was pronounced dead at the scene. He was not wearing a seat belt.
If you have additional information regarding any of these incidents please contact PSP Gibson at (570) 465-3154.
Despite inclement weather and a holiday, the February 14 New Milford Township meeting occurred as planned, though with scant attendance. Several items were dealt with in the relatively short meeting, ranging from anniversary celebrations to properly acquired fill.
It was announced that the Township will not hold an independent bicentennial celebration. Ken Bondurant, who had spoken up in a prior meeting seeking support for organizing one, recently spoke with the borough. It was decided that since the Township is so late in getting started, it will combine its celebration with that of the Borough's 150th anniversary.
Several announcements of approval by the Susquehanna County Planning Commission were made, regarding property changes, subdivisions, or additions. Two new cell towers, to be erected by NEP Telephone Company, were approved. They are towers 14 and 15, and one is to be placed up on Watson Hill. South New Milford Baptist Church received final approval for a building on their property. A subdivision of the property belonging to Chester Groover, the two houses destroyed on Rte. 11 in the flood, was also mentioned. This was required so that half the property can be bought out by FEMA.
A notice from PEMA was read, announcing that the 22nd annual weather exercise is approaching. It is scheduled for March 15. Amongst other things, a statewide test of the emergency alert system is slated for 10:10 that day.
The Township received a notice from the PA Commonwealth querying whether or not it has an ordinance restricting the ability of sex offenders to live within its bounds. The Commonwealth is trying to ascertain which municipalities have ordinances regarding this issue. The Township currently does not, though it does have an ordinance restricting the presence of adult dancing establishments; one which is strong enough to have been copied by surrounding municipalities. It was decided further consideration will be given to whether or not an ordinance regarding the residence of sex offenders should be written.
The supervisors also clarified an issue which has apparently been the subject of multiple letters to the editor. The township has been receiving fill from Dubois Street, but has not, as has been thought, been taking it. The township did not solicit the materials; the Conservation District and County Commissioners came to the township and asked if they would take the it. This has to do with the fact that the materials cannot go to a private residence, nor can it go into the flood zone. The township is not in the flood zone, and were therefore sought out. There are several projects which the material can be used for, however nothing may be done with it until they are given clearance.
The township is seeking a bid to remove an existing pipe and install a metal culvert on Bailey Road. The project must be done per engineer specs. It is to be completed by June.
Finally, a discussion was had, broached by a visitor, regarding whether or not the people responsible for the display model home on 492 had acquired a permit. This will be looked into, though there may be no need for one as it has no sewer, no water, no electricity, and is not a permanent structure. The Log Cabin Real Estate building was also mentioned, which was thought to have also been originally placed there as a mobile home, but which now has all of the aforementioned amenities and is used as a business. The same visitor queried whether or not proper permits had ever been gotten for that building, feeling that it would not be fair to other taxpayers were this not the case.
Blue Ridge School Board members are taking their time developing a budget this year. For one thing, they have more time to spend on it. And Board President Alan Hall is determined to cut the budget to the bone to keep from having to raise taxes.
At the last meeting, outgoing Elementary School Principal Robert Dietz was grilled for well over an hour, forced to justify every penny in every line of his proposed budget for 2007-2008. The other two principals had every reason to expect similar treatment at the meeting and workshop on February 12.
Instead, the Board heard from John Ketchur, the District's Technology Coordinator. He either disarmed the Board with his candor and savvy, or Mr. Hall is caught up in the technology that is transforming the schools. Or it might have been that members hadn't the energy to put him through the same kind of wringer.
Whatever the reason, Mr. Ketchur fielded a number of easy questions about the progress of technology at Blue Ridge with few difficult challenges.
In fact, he presented his budget proposal in two parts: just over $33,000 for infrastructure upgrades and maintenance, including servers and updated software; and technology budget requests from the individual schools, for which he claimed no responsibility.
According to Mr. Ketchur, Blue Ridge now has about 500 computers of various vintages. He said they keep them running for five to seven years, and are on a schedule for replacement. He budgets about $600 to replace a computer, and expects to replace about 65 of them each year. Larger amounts are required for scheduled upgrades of the main servers that constitute the core of the District's computing infrastructure, for e-mail, web services and the like.
Following Mr. Ketchur's performance, Board members agreed to postpone consideration of the remaining two school budgets until the next workshop, on Monday, February 26.
That workshop will also host a public hearing on a referendum question proposed for the ballot on May 15. Under Act 1 of 2006, the same law that requires schools to prepare their budgets so much earlier than in the past, voters are to have an opportunity to choose to offset some property taxes by accepting either an earned income tax (EIT) on wages and other current income, or a personal income tax (PIT) on all income except pensions and social security.
The Blue Ridge Board is offering the following question for the public's consideration:
"Do you favor imposing a personal income tax at 1%? The revenue generated from the tax will be used to reduce taxes on qualified residential properties for an amount that could range from $251 to $453 based on the rate of collection? This 1% personal income tax will impose a tax on salaries, wages, interest, dividends, commissions, bonuses, incentive payments, fees, tips, and other incomes earned by the residents of the district."
A five-member tax study commission last year recommended no change in the tax structure in the Blue Ridge School District; that is, they recommended to impose no income tax of any kind. The Board accepted that recommendation. Nevertheless, the referendum must go forward. So the District is making every effort to educate the public about the potential effect of an income tax in such a low-income area with little local employment.
The rest of the business meeting was routine. Sam Bourizk, the schools' probation officer, was accepted as a Saturday detention monitor. Superintendent Robert McNamara said that Mr. Bourizk was the only applicant, and is well qualified for the job that pays nearly $20 per hour.
The Board also accepted the report and findings of the state Auditor General's office for the 2003 and 2004 school years. Board member Joel Whitehead objected to one negative finding regarding transportation for a special-needs student during a summer session under an Individual Education Plan (IEP), and requested that the administration address such objection in writing to the state auditor.
The Board accepted a contract with Premier, a Bellingham, Washington firm that prints handbooks and "agendas" for schools nationwide. Blue Ridge has been purchasing student handbooks from Premier for a number of years; this is the first time the company has requested a contract, which has a term of one year.
Two students, Cassandra Summers and Christopher Empett, requested financial help for their participation in the National Young Leaders Conferences in Washington, DC. Mr. Empett's session was earlier in the month, and Board member Harold Empett said the experience was very profitable. The Blue Ridge Board each year sets aside a $500 pool, which is divided among all such requests at the end of the year.
The Board adopted an agreement form for service providers who will conduct "ACCESS Medical Practitioner Authorization reviews" of IEP documents for Blue Ridge. ACCESS is a federally-funded program that provides additional and enhanced services to eligible special needs students for whom individual education plans have been created. The authorization reviews are required under the ACCESS program.
High School Principal John Manchester reported that another Kid Safe night is scheduled for March 8, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. The event has been held at Blue Ridge annually for the past several years to help educate parents about crime, drugs and other perils threatening young people. It is organized along the lines of a career fair, with many county and other social service agencies manning tables with information of all kinds. It is sponsored by the school, the county court and district attorney. The community is encouraged to attend and learn.
The next meeting of the Blue Ridge School Board will be held on Monday, February 26, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the cafeteria in the Elementary School. The meeting will be a workshop, including a public hearing on the referendum question proposing a personal income tax.