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It was made public at the October 13 Susquehanna County Commissioners' meeting that a special meeting was held on September 29 to address county salaries and health premium payments beginning in 2012.
A salary increase of two percent each year was approved for the elected offices of commissioner, treasurer, coroner, recorder of deeds, register of wills and auditors for the years 2012 and 2013. This is mandated by statute. The officials will also be required to pay 10 percent of the premium for their health insurance.
In 2014 and 2015, the commissioners will accept a 0 percent pay increase per year, and pay 15 percent of their health care premium in 2014 and 25 percent of the premium in 2015.
The salaries of treasurer, coroner, recorder of deeds, register of wills and auditors will see a two percent increase per year during that time, and they will pay 15 percent of their health premiums in 2014 and 25 percent in 2015.
The difference between the pay increases for commissioners and for the other elected officials in 2014-15 was decided by the fact that those officials perform many duties and put great effort in meeting their responsibilities.
"The county is in the best shape it's been in for a long time," said Commissioner Michael Giangrieco. "Our elected officials have worked very hard to accomplish this."
"This will show up when we plan the next budget, especially when we address millage," Giangrieco continued.
He also said commissioners had to take the lead in paying an increase toward health coverage premiums. "It's not fair for us to expect it of other employees unless we do it as well," Giangrieco said.
Salaries and health benefit premiums for non-union employees was addressed at the October 13 salary board meeting, with a three percent salary increase and a 10 percent health premium contribution beginning January 1, 2011, being approved.
During the regular meeting, Commissioners declared October 18-22 National Business Women's Week in the county, a recognition instigated by the Business and Professional Women/USA to spotlight the achievements and contributions of working women.
Three employees were recognized for years of service. Jolene Kelly of Children & Youth has served the county for five years, and Karen Mitchell for 10 years, in that department. Mark Hunsinger was recognized for five years of service at the Susquehanna County Correctional Facility.
Bids for refuse dumpsters (8) for December 1, 2010 through November 30, 2012, and bids for custodial supplies for the coming years were opened and will be reviewed.
A bid for planned maintenance for equipment at the recycling center was awarded to Thompson and Johnson Equipment of East Syracuse, NY, for a Bobcat loader ($280), a Toyota fork lift ($230) and a Toyota clamp truck ($230).
Commissioners have continued a memorandum of understanding between Penn State Cooperative Extension and the county for January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011 for the 4-H Youth Development Program in Susquehanna County, overseen by Joseph Fuller, with the county responsible for $28,850 of the $63,339 salary and benefits. An agreement was also approved for the Dairy/Agriculture Program educator position, currently held by Michele Kovalewski, with the county's share of the $52,593 salary and benefits package being $25,352.
Susquehanna County has also authorized an agreement with the Central Bradford Progress Authority to provide a countywide Economic Development Program that will offer technical assistance to all areas of the county, at a cost of $74,202 for one year, beginning January 1, 2011, with an automatic renewal for two additional years.
During public comment, Susquehanna County Farm Bureau member Cheryl Mateluvich updated the commissioners on the Marcellus Shale seminar she attended at Penn State recently. Mateluvich had asked the commissioners at an earlier meeting if they were sending a representative to the event. The commissioners responded it would be too expensive to send someone.
"It was very informative," Mateluvich said, "especially regarding ground water concerns." She said the pre-registered cost for one day at the seminar was $190, and suggested, as the gas industry has impacted the county greatly, that the commissioners consider sending one member to next year's seminar.
The next Susquehanna County Commissioners' public meeting is 9 a.m., Wednesday, October 27, in the county office building downstairs conference room, 31 Public Ave., Montrose.
It was the Columbus Day holiday, but that didn’t stop the Blue Ridge School Board from gathering on October 11 for a business meeting that lasted barely 45 minutes, but may end up costing - and saving - millions.
As usual, High School Principal Scott Jeffery started off by introducing a couple of his outstanding seniors. Ashley Derunda, a member of the National Honor Society and president of Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), is a veteran of 4 years of softball at Blue Ridge, and will join the Navy to be trained as a medical corpsman. Dan Kempa, fond of all sports, has taken up a recent interest in business, which he hopes to pursue in college.
Mr. Jeffery took special note of the achievement of Rebekah Harris, who received a commendation in the National Merit Scholars program, placing “among the top 5 percent of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2011 competition by taking the 2009 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.”
It was also noteworthy that Theresa Whitehead took a place as student representative across the table from her proud “grandpa,” long-time board member Joel Whitehead.
Among personnel matters, the board accepted the resignation of Traci Sienko as K-2 learning support paraeducator. It approved Jessica Boyko as a substitute liaison to the Big Brother/Big Sister program. The board acknowledged tenure for guidance counselor Jamie Torrence. And it hired Pamela DeRose and Gwen Gumaer as part-time study hall monitors for the remainder of the school year; both were present to accept the Board’s welcome.
The Board approved a measure to pay a group of teachers a total of about $1,600 for working at the Family Math and Reading night. Board president Alan Hall asked about the budget implications; Elementary School Principal Matthew Button said that the budget included $2,000 for such programs.
When the Board took up a routine measure to accept a list of day-to-day instructional substitutes, member Shane Rumage asked why these lists so frequently include so-called “Guest Teachers,” as in this case all three were so listed. In Pennsylvania, schools may use uncertified individuals as “guest teachers” when fully-qualified substitutes aren’t available. Superintendent Robert McTiernan said that substitutes are chosen as necessary and available in the order: certified, BA or BS degree, and guests. Mr. Rumage, who ultimately voted against the motion, said he thought there should be plenty of certified teachers available.
The board went on to approve something called “Too Good for Drugs” to be operated by Trehab, the local social services agency. Mr. Button said that the program is an approved part of the Safe And Drug Free Schools initiative sponsored by the Federal Department of Education and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The board also approved an “affiliation agreement with Keystone College for the placement of student teachers.
At the very tail end of the meeting, the board approved a pair of measures that dip a Raider Red toe in some serious waters of energy conservation. The first was a “Request for Proposal” for a “Guaranteed Energy Savings Contract” that encompasses both phases of a major project developed by Johnson Controls that would install and upgrade technology in the schools to make the campus more energy efficient, and, in the second phase, would install a large wind-driven turbine on the campus to provide electricity. The first phase of the project - as noted by the title of the “RFQ” - is expected to at least pay for itself through energy savings and could cost up to about $1 million. The measure allows the district to advertise for the services of Energy Service Companies to do any or all of the work outlined in the proposal. Since Johnson Controls thought up the project, they can be expected to bid on the contract.
The companion item allows the administration to apply for a 1% bond-subsidy under the “Qualified Zone Academy Bond Program” (QZAB), a funding program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education through the National Education Foundation. The application requests almost $8 million covering all proposed elements of both phases of the energy program under consideration. The second phase - the installation of a high-capacity windmill - accounts for most of the additional $6 million.
Mr. Hall was at pains to assure his colleagues that these measures so far do not commit the district to anything. Indeed, the various elements of phase one would be examined by the board’s Facilities and Grounds committee, and the board would be free to pick and choose among the alternatives.
The bond program application has to be submitted by October 20. Responses to the RFQ are expected at the district office by November 3.
Mr. Whitehead voted against both measures. He was concerned that the district’s mission doesn’t seem to him to include a mandate to issue debt to the tune of nearly $8 million, even for something that is supposedly “guaranteed.”
A project this size, though costly up front, could potentially put Blue Ridge in the forefront in energy conservation in our area, if not statewide. The board seems willing to accept the risks. What do you think? Attend the next meeting, a workshop on October 25, and offer your opinion. Harold Empett, chair of the Facilities and Grounds Committee said that his team will be meeting that same evening, beginning at 6:30 p.m. All meetings are held in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
Montrose Minute Men to Montrose Minute Men, Inc., in Montrose for one dollar.
Joseph E. Ryan (estate) to Lawrence T. Oreilly, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Melissa Moore, Richard Stanley (estate) and Keith Hunt to John C. Lackey, in Middletown Township for $285,000.00.
Ireno Monteforte to Ireno, Mary and James Monteforte, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Ireno Monteforte to Ireno, Mary and James Monteforte, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Jack Larimore and Helen Pettengill to Robert and James Ingram, in Gibson Township for one dollar.
Stephen M. West (by sheriff) to Peoples National Bank, in New Milford Township and Hallstead Borough for $9,436.71.
Robert J. and Evelyn L. Jordan to David M. and Sharon M. Jordan, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Robert J. and Evelyn L. Jordan to Rebecca Jordan, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Pennsylvania Mineral Group LLC to BP Mineral Holdings LP, in Springville Township for $10.00.
Larry R. Parks (by sheriff) to US Bank, in Oakland Township for $6,035.39.
James J. Rowlands (by sheriff) to Honesdale National Bank, in Forest City for $6,711.36.
Linde Enterprises, Inc. to Linde Corporation, in Forest City for $1,337,000.00.
Linde Enterprises, Inc. to Linde Corporation, in Clifford Township for $179,000.00.
Edward J. McKenna to Reuben G. and Elizabeth A. Everitt, in Silver Lake Township for $100,000.00.
Sandra E. Streater to Sandra E. and Ronald L. Streater, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Richard Craig, David Wayne, Donald Avery, Jason Perry and Kevin Grant Lyman and Lisa Lyman Robinson to Lyman LLC, in Springville Township for $121,800.00.
The Susquehanna County Domestic Relations Section has bench warrants for the following individuals as of 10:06 a.m. on October 15, 2010.
Erika L. Back, Bradley J. Baker, Keith Bryant Beach, Harold R. Bensley, David Shawn Blaisure, Howard A. Burns, III, Deborah L. Drish, Jonathan Fathi, Shawn Fiorentino, David J. Fischer, David Haines, Jr., Keith G. Harms, Anthony D. Hibbard, Sr., Erik E. Krisovitch, Casey J. Lawton, Joshua S. Lee, Charlie J. Legere, Carlos L. Leiser, Jason Lindquist, Jennifer M. Miller, Shane Nelson, Anthony Neri, Brian T. Phillips, Arthur D. Quick, David J. Shiner, Richard D. Shoemaker, Sinon C. Smith, Sr., Duane Spencer, Justin Thompson, Keith W. Vroman, Jamie L. Williams, Kenneth L. Wilmot, Jr., Karl D. Zantowsky.
Please contact the Domestic Relations Section at 570-278-4600 ext. 170 with any information on the location of these individuals.
On September 2, Zackery Holofchak reported that his vehicles had been broken into while parked at his residence on Briton Road in Silver Lake Township. Taken were his wallet with cash, stereo faceplate and “T” handle tire kits. The scene was processed and is still under investigation.
On September 4, multiple mailbox smashings were reported on Lake Sophia Road, Silver Lake Township, at approximately 0445 hrs. A description of the vehicle involved was given and this incident is still under investigation.
On September 6, more mailbox smashings were reported on Donovan Road, Silver Lake Township.
On September 6, trespassing was reported at the Baldwin residence on Donovan Road, Silver Lake Township. Apparently a racecourse was being marked and the resident does not want anyone on the property.
On September 7, the Quaker Lake Association reported that damage had been done to the Association grounds after 11:30 p.m. on September 6. A vehicle had intentionally torn up the tennis court and the lawn grounds.
ATV’S ON ROADWAY
On September 11, it was reported that ATV’s were running back and forth on Stewart Road, Forest Lake Township, and spinning around and throwing gravel onto lawns in the area. This incident is still under investigation with suspects identified.
On September 17, a routine traffic stop for a vehicle violation and suspicious acting occupants resulted in the confiscation of paraphernalia and marijuana from juveniles. Juvenile Probation was also notified and this activity is still under investigation.
DISORDERLY CONDUCT/NEIGHBOR DOMESTIC DISPUTE
On September 24, SLTPD was dispatched to the Thomas Bundy residence on Hawleyton Road, Silver Lake Township. His dog had been taken from his residence by his neighbors when he wasn’t home. His neighbors, the Zimmer’s, alleged that the dog was not properly cared for. The investigation was completed and the dog was returned. Alcohol was a factor in this incident.
On September 27, mailboxes were smashed on Arrowhead Lake Road along with mail being scattered throughout the roadway.
On September 28, mailboxes on Patton Road were reported smashed as well as mail items missing and damaged.
On September 30, it was reported that gas well vehicles were blocking the roadway on the Laurel Lake Road east of the bridge. Investigation of the incident showed that the vehicle, or vehicles, had taken a wrong route from the designated bonded route it was permitted to follow.
On September 17, Jack Maynard reported that a small dog had attacked him while walking on Kennedy Road. No injuries resulted, but the dog owners were identified and notified.
Any information or questions for Silver Lake Township Police, please call 570-278-6818 or e-mail email@example.com. All information will be held strictly confidential. Visit the Silver Lake Township Website at silverlaketwp.org to see all of Silver Lake Townships’ news, profiles and resources, including police reports.
The October 12 Forest City Regional School Board meeting opened with the girls’ soccer team requesting permission to wear warm-up suits to school on game days. Although the school uniform policy permits athletes to wear jerseys to school on game days, board members pointed out that permitting the girls to wear their matching wind pants would require an amendment to the uniform policy. One girl stated that the soccer players were not seeking to challenge the dress code but were just trying to show school spirit and gain support and respect from the school and community. “We feel like it’s not that big of a problem,” a player said. Two board members supported the proposal; however, a majority felt that amending the uniform policy would establish a precedent that would undermine the policy. One board member asserted that wearing jerseys on game days shows school spirit, and a board member suggested that on Senior Day, all fall athletes could wear jerseys to school. “I’m proud that the soccer team is here to represent,” Mary Emmett said, but added, “We don’t want this to get out of hand. We have to look out for the best interest of all students.”
Another athletic issue involved the resignation of William Fedak as eighth grade boys’ basketball coach. Luke Pisarcik will replace Fedak, with Matthew Pisarcik serving as a volunteer assistant.
Superintendent Robert Vadella announced a free flu clinic on October 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. The vaccine, which will include the 2010 flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine, will be available to children and families residing in the school district and to all district personnel.
On Monday, October 11, a school shooter drill was conducted at Forest City Regional by the county sheriff and other law enforcement officials. Vadella explained that the school is “trying to become more prepared for those emergency crisis situations. They could happen anywhere; we’ve learned that.”
Vadella also noted that based on improved test scores, the elementary school was named a Title I Distinguished School, which is expected to translate into extra funding.
At the Harford Township Supervisors’ meeting on October 12, Garry Foltz announced that the township has been sued by 7 property owners at Tingley Lake. The suit alleges that the township has failed to properly maintain a sluice under Stearns Road at the outlet of the lake where it drains into Leslie Creek, potentially endangering their properties by flooding, and seeks to force the township to take action to mitigate the situation.
In June 2006 a major storm inundated the area, raising the level of Tingley Lake about 7 feet, apparently resulting in part from diminished capacity of the sluice due to crushing and clogging with debris. Several houses on the lake shore were flooded, in at least one case causing damage to the tune of about $12,000.
The suit does not specifically mention that event. Indeed, although the cover sheet mentions that “money damages” are requested, the document itself does not mention a figure, requesting only “costs and expenses of the suit” itself. The lead plaintiff in the suit has said that he is less interested in any money from the suit; he says that he simply wants the sluice fixed so that his property is safe once again from flooding. Any financial award would presumably result from litigation or settlement.
At the meeting, Mr. Foltz characterized the suit as “quite harsh,” despite the township’s “very positive approach” to the problem: applying for grants, soliciting other ideas to minimize the cost. He said that the suit may eventually decide “who is ultimately responsible for the outflow of Tingley Lake.” He said that the township’s solicitor had visited the site and brought into question the condition of the dam at the end of the lake itself. He also said that he thought that the township’s application for a grant to help with the project would now “go to a standstill.”
Ironically, both sides appear to be relying on the same “Dam Safety and Encroachment Act 32,” part of the state code that regulates dams. Mr. Foltz mentioned specifically section 13, titled “Duties of Owners,” referring to the owners of the dam itself. The suit refers to the section of Stearns Road that passes over the sluice as a “Stream Crossing” which “acts as a dam during heavy but foreseeable rainfall events …”. Plaintiffs allege several violations of the same law, including Sections 18 (Unlawful Conduct), Section 19 (Civil Remedies), and the very same Section 13, claiming that the township has an obligation to maintain the sluice, which it owns.
Following the 2006 flood, the township engaged Hawk Engineering to study the site. The engineers were paid in the neighborhood of $20,000 for a report and design, which estimated a cost of over $200,000 to replace the sluice. Never denying its responsibility to maintain the sluice, the township subsequently borrowed $500,000 interest-free from the state to bridge the cost of replacing a washed-out bridge on Pennay Hill Road over Butler Creek until reimbursement was received from emergency management agencies; at the time the fund was also intended to be used for the Stearns Road project. The Supervisors have since been disinclined to spend any of that money on Stearns Road since local taxpayers - rather than a government agency - would have to pay it back. For now, that fund continues to draw interest in a bank; it paid the township almost $400 last month.
Mr. Foltz has suggested that the cost could be cut considerably by closing the road during construction, rather than building a temporary bypass, as called for in the engineers’ plan. A complicating factor is that a Harford Township sewer line runs under the center of Stearns Road in that area. In the meantime, Supervisor and Roadmaster Terry VanGorden - who lives on Tingley Lake himself - has said that if the lake floods again, he would have Stearns Road cut to allow the overflow to drain away.
The Supervisors did cover other material at the meeting. All of the paperwork is complete for the project to replace a sluice under Richardson Road. This environmentally sensitive area required some permits, and is under the supervision of the county Soil and Conservation Service, which is funding the work. Mr. Foltz said the project would be carried out next Spring.
And both county and state approvals have been received for a grant that will help to repave School Street in Harford Village. The township applied for $39,000 for a total project cost of some $43,950. The township will be expected to foot about $4,000 of the total. The grant was based at least in part on the fact that the Harford Village Apartments qualifies as low-income housing, a target for some of this type of funding. So far, however, the state has not released the funds.
Whether it’s dust from not enough water, or too much water in a lake, you can find it all in Harford. Hear about it at the next public meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, November 9, when the budget is sure to come up for debate. Meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. at the township building on Route 547 south of the Interstate.
Following is the list of names drawn to serve as Petit and Traverse jurors to appear in the Court of Common Pleas, Susquehanna County Courthouse, Montrose, on the first day of November at 9:00 a.m.
Apolacon Twp.: Sharon Gillingham.
Ararat Twp.: Ronald S. Arreil.
Auburn Twp.: Dora Cobb.
Bridgewater Twp.: Keith Caton, Evelyn Foster, Barbara Penny, Beatrice Sheffler, Gretchen Storck.
Brooklyn Twp.: Valerie Brewer, Ivan Raught, Jack Sterling, Samantha Weisner.
Choconut Twp.: Herbert Traver.
Clifford Twp.: Leland Caraballo, Susanne Dec, Maddox Dombrowski, Tracy Mudge, Harold Ort, Freeman Schmitt, Ann Valinski.
Dimock Twp.: Lloyd Conrad, Dewey Hunsinger, Mary Moriarity, Kenneth Visavati.
Forest City, 2W: Frances Kapp, Johnathon Lighthizer.
Forest Lake Twp.: Eugene Fraser, Bill McCollum.
Gibson Twp.: Mary Fay, David Gow, Donald Meagher, Keith Rapisardi.
Great Bend Twp.: Scott Hewitt, Kevin Mansfield, Kevin Oakley, Jason Tenhoeve, William Warner.
Hallstead Boro: John Kammerer, Raymond Stone.
Harford Twp.: Mark Chuck, Rick Holgate, Katy Jablonowski, Brenda Nesevich.
Herrick Twp.: Yvonne Depew.
Jackson Twp.: Tammy Wenzl, Dawn Woodbridge.
Lanesboro Boro: Mary French.
Lenox Twp.: Loena Barbar, Robert Miller, Jason Perez, Walter Smith, Helene Tinsley.
Liberty Twp.: Jody Luce.
Middletown Twp.: Jared Traver.
Montrose Boro, 1W: Celia Warner, Brian Wibb.
Montrose Boro, 2W: Stephen Arnold, Jerry Cronk, Gary Day.
New Milford Boro: Melissa Martin.
New Milford Twp.: Doris Hirtle, Lisa Lee, Lisa-Anne Uhlfelder.
Oakland Boro: Dawn Albrecht, Marvin Glover.
Rush Twp.: Leighann Charles, Paul Cook, Harold Craige, Edward Hogan, Eugene Swetland.
Silver Lake Twp.: Karen Frantz, David Jones, Ronald Reagan.
Springville Twp.: Emery Benscoter.
Susquehanna Boro, 2W: John Tarbox.
Oakland Township has been in discussion with Oakland Boro, Susquehanna Boro and Lanesboro Boro to form a regional police department in anticipation of pending state legislation that will mandate that all municipalities have full-time police coverage. At their October 12 meeting, a motion was made to withdraw from the discussion. Supervisor Cy Cowperthwait said that he had reservations about the direction the discussions were taking, and some issues in particular. Jamie Chilewski preferred to wait until after the next police meeting before taking action on the motion, as some questions had been raised at their last meeting, and she would like those questions be answered before the township decided whether or not to withdraw. No action was taken on the motion.
In the meantime, the township has contracted with Oakland Boro for coverage, and it was reported that all parties are pleased with how it is going. Officer Robert Sweet has been organizing office space on the second floor of the township building. There was some discussion as to what is needed, such as heat, a phone line, a partition and a bench with a ring bolt for restraints. A motion carried to authorize purchase of materials to re-cover an existing desk.
Correspondence reviewed included notice of a PA Flood Plain Management meeting on October 26; a permit issued by Codes Inspection, Inc. for a garage; a corrective deed for the McKinney property (the change requested by FEMA); a thirty-day notice of the township's estimated renewal premium from EMC Insurance; the PSATS 2010 wage and salary survey; the PSATS 2010 unemployment compensation rate schedule; and notice from the county Housing and Redevelopment Authority regarding 2011 block grant applications.
The fall road review was set to begin; a priority list of projects will be compiled after the inspection.
The beavers on Bedbug Hollow have been as industrious as ever; a screen shield was placed over the end of a sluice pipe where they had been working on a dam, so they moved to the other end of the pipe and clogged it.
The land development ordinance and weight limit ordinance are still in progress.
The current list of codes violations was reviewed.
The township's solicitor will be contacted to determine the status of a situation involving delinquent payment of the township amusement tax.
New expense report forms were reviewed, and there was discussion about which items are reimbursable (mileage, educational costs) and which are not (personal items).
Work has begun on the 2011 budget; there was a review of some line items.
And, due to scheduling conflicts, next month's meeting has been rescheduled to Friday, November 5 at 7:00 p.m.
Mr. Ognosky quipped that there was nothing good happening at the school, during the beginning of the October 11 Montrose school board meeting. He then explained that he had purposely shortened this portion of the meeting because the principals were planning to bring things up at the work session.
It was questioned why one grade in particular had appreciably less money in their account than others. The answer to this wasn't definitively known, however it was said, as an informational notice, that people could donate money to a child's class fund and use it as a tax write-off.
During the policy portion of the meeting, several changes were made. Some of them, Mr. Ognosky explained, came from the PSBA in reference to the hiring process, and were a repercussion of a genetic information discrimination act. The Mandate Waiver Law was not approved again this year, he continued, which no longer allows a district to apply for mandate waivers.
A new policy was also enacted to give guidelines for when the board wanted to designate excess funds to a particular cause. These will be labeled either restricted or reserve. This was at the suggestion of PSBA, making it more difficult to make quick decisions as to what to do with such money.
The resignation of Brianna Crowley from food services was accepted with regret. This position, it was stated, was not to be refilled.
The motion was made to approve Douglas Wilcox and Karl Wimmer to attend the National School Boards Association national conference in San Francisco in April of this year.
During the administrator's reports, various items of note were discussed. There was some discussion over the closing of the Scranton State School for the deaf, and how the children now are transported to the only secondary certified school for the deaf in Pittsburgh. The main gym had been largely finished, it was announced. It was suggested that the baseball team use tennis balls for indoor practices instead of baseballs, though someone wryly suggested this might be difficult to put into practice. The elementary school has a mobile classroom run by the department of agriculture, which the students will get to use. As the schools were two of the first schools to sign up in the area, they received a discounted rate. At Lathrop Street the Montrose fire department came and did programs for the students, and at Choconut Valley other companies came. At Choconut Valley the firemen stay and eat lunch with the kids, so that they can learn that they are not scary people. A planned fire drill was run, which it was felt went pretty well. It was also announced that Rachel's challenge would be returning, on October 20, for its second year. Then there was talk regarding the new parent notification system. This will likely replace the phone chain system. Parents can opt out of the calling system, and can also add phone numbers and e-mail messages. If a person hangs up prior to hearing the message, they will be called back. Progress is being made on the new administration building, it was reported; they were about ninety percent done completing the boxes. However, on site the process is about two weeks behind due to the weather. It was felt they might be on site the first week of the following month. It was reported that the district is looking with other districts into the deregulation of electricity situation.
Two special presentations were given. The technology coordinator, Mr. Owens, said that he had been working on data back up and recovery. In the early two thousands, he said, an automated tape back up device had been invested in. Now, he continued, well over a terrabyte of data is being backed up every night. Ensuring that those backups are being done, he stated, is becoming an administrative nightmare. Thus far, things have gone rather well, without excessive downtime and with repairable servers, but he feared it would not always be so. The board received a four page proposal of how to address this problem. A list of things he desired in a solution were related, and he came up with eight possible options. These included doing nothing, adding backup storage to continue with the current backup system, and utilizing third party software or servers. The direction the tech department was leaning, he said, was with a new hardware supplier. A recommendation was made regarding which company he wished to go with. A number of schools have it in production right now, as do a number of industries. The money for this was not in the budget, but he petitioned for the money to be freed up to allow for the process to begin in the near future. Much of what is being backed up currently, he explained, is student files. Various questions were asked then, from the administration and board regarding this. One of these was why they were not looking into web based backups. It was responded that it might not back up quickly enough, and it might eat into internet bandwidth during the day. What Mr. Owens wanted was the permission to put this out to bid this month, and to explore it. This is what would need to be done, Mr. Ognosky said, writing a bid and then opening it up. Mr. Caterson asked Mr. Wimmer if this would be important enough to by-step normally budgeted funds to take care of now, wondering if the probability was serious enough to do this. His response was that the probability was not necessarily high, but that he felt that as it wasn't known if the current system was significant, sooner was better than later. It was, in the end, agreed that it could be bid out just to explore the options.
The elementary principals then provided a brief overview of the district's annual yearly progress (AYP) results. At Choconut Valley, AYP was once again reached in the three target areas: attendance, academic performance, and test participation. This means that the school met 13 out of 13 targets. All subgroups which they have in the district, as well as the students overall, met this standard in both reading and math, though the only subgroups the district had right now were white non-hispanic and economically disadvantaged (a certain number of students have to meet the criteria of a subgroup in order for the school to officially have it). The only area where the school did not make the standard outright was in the economically disadvantaged subgroup in the area of reading. This was met with the assistance of a confidence interval, with the group improving over last year. At Lathrop Street, AYP was also met. That school met 17 of 17 goals, in the same areas. The reason why this school had more goals was due to Lathrop Street also having an IEP (individual education plan) subgroup. The only area where they did not make AYP outright was in the IEP subgroup for reading, where it was met with the assistance of safe harbor. Safe harbor means that the number of students the year prior that were below proficient was reduced by at least ten percent. This was actually fairly close at the school; it was made but not by much. However, it was explained, even had they missed this they might have made it through another system, such as a confidence interval. The only area in which the school regressed was in math for the economically disadvantaged subgroup. The website they were using was http://paayp.emetric.net/, which has a section where parents can get information. At the high school, AYP was also met in all 17 goals, including graduation rate. At the high school level, this goal was obtained through means of safe harbor and safe harbor with a confidence interval for the IEP and economically disadvantaged subgroups, in both reading and math. The only area in which the district decreased was in reading for the economically disadvantaged subgroup. This is the second year in a row in which the secondary school has made AYP. It was stipulated that the class which has had the most difficulty was the juniors. The junior high were the classes which really improved. The impending keystone exams, Mr. Ognosky thought, would have a tremendous effect on things, as the junior PSSA tests would be replaced with subject specific examinations.
The district is looking into beginning a dual enrollment program, which would allow students to receive college credits for participating in their high school curriculum. The college would certify the instructors and the curriculum, and then the students would receive double for their money. The idea would be to arrange this system with at least two colleges. If it worked well, students would theoretically be able to earn up to a year of college credits through electives. Other districts in the area already have programs in place.
The concern Mr. Ognosky had, he said, was whether or not the credits for the local colleges would be able to be transferred to other colleges, so that the program wasn't funneling people into those schools. It had been discovered through research, however, that many four year colleges were on board with this and would accept the credits so long as they weren't being applied toward the subject area of their major. It was even hoped that the district might be able to receive a grant for this, such that the students might not have to pay full cost, if any cost, for the credits.
After the meeting ended Jessie Blaney of Choconut Valley made a special request. Having entered into a contest to win $100,000 by means of writing an essay about what the school needs, she had an opportunity to win this. Her answer had been the necessity for technology equipment, and the essay was accepted into the contest. Now, people need to go onto www.bing.com/ourschoolneeds to vote for Choconut Valley's proposal, if they want it to win. If the project is the top rated by means of these votes, they win $100,000; if they are the top rated in grades k-6, they will receive $50,000.
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