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PENNS MANOR: Directors hire new head of cyberschool

by SEAN YODER news@indianagazette.net on July 11, 2014 10:54 AM

KENWOOD — The Penns Manor Area school board approved the hiring of a teacher Thursday to operate the district’s new cyberschool academy, among other duties.

Benjamin Murphy, who holds multiple certifications, will run the cyberschool and oversee library responsibilities and teach library classes. Murphy will be paid $52,955.

Acting Superintendent Daren Johnston said Murphy’s hiring will save the district money on multiple fronts. Firstly, the district will gain a supervisor for the library that used to cost about $60,000, Johnston said.

“The board considered not hiring a teacher for in our library,” Johnston said. “As I sat down, new to this position, I tried to come up with a creative way because, honestly, it put fear in me that I would have a library without an individual in it.”

Secondly, by having a cyberschool program, the district can try to bring students and money back, which means returning funds to a district that recently raised taxes by 12.66 mills, or $122 for the average taxpayer.

The district lost about $300,000 last year to cyberschooling because schools in the commonwealth are obligated to pay for education outside of their traditional brick-and-mortar setting.

Cyberschool will cost the district about $490 per student when done in-house, including a laptop and scanner. The scanner is used for handwritten work, such as math problems, that cannot easily be entered into a computer on a keyboard.

“The next step will be to get all of our teachers trained for all of the online work by start of school on Aug. 27,” Johnston said.

The administration will be looking to fill positions for a secondary English teacher with a preference of a second certification and a physical education teacher for secondary boys’ and elementary physical education.

The board also approved an agreement between the district and Pennsylvania Highlands Community College for the upcoming school year. Students will be able to obtain an associate’s degree in general studies.

Also, the district and the Penns Manor Education Support Professionals Association have reached an agreement after two years of negotiations. The union includes cafeteria workers, maintenance, secretaries and instructional assistants. The deal will be retroactive to July 2012 and will extend to June 2016. Details of the contract were not made public Thursday.

In other business, the board voted to:

• Accept the resignation of David Fulton as high school class adviser

• Hire Kaylee Roles as assistant cheerleading coach

• Accept the resignation of Joelle Wisnieski as girls’ softball head coach

• Raise all student lunch prices by 10 cents and adult lunches by 15 cents.

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