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UNITED: School board's special meetings to focus on curriculum

by on October 09, 2013 10:50 AM

ARMAGH — Beginning Oct. 29, the United School District Board of Education will focus on curriculum and instruction during special meetings before each regularly scheduled board meeting.

Robert Dill, chairman of the curriculum and instruction committee, told the board at Tuesday’s meeting that his committee has set up the meetings in an effort to further develop the committee to help move the board and the district along in those areas.

Dill provided the board with a layout of focus points and more specific items the board would like to address at the meetings, board President Don Davis said. He said Dill and the board “talked and talked for the last couple months about what we want to do in the areas of curriculum and instruction.”

The meetings will begin at 6 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month, prior to the regular board meeting, with the exception of October’s meeting, which will be Oct. 29.

Dill said for each meeting he will try to put into writing what he’s heard to be some areas of focus “that the board wishes to pursue.”

October’s meeting focus will be the high school delivery system which, Davis said, refers to how instruction is delivered to students. Under that focus point, for example, is the exploration of a nine-period school day delivery system, which includes specific items such as staffing considerations, course realignment, elective offerings and an administrative plan for 2014-15 school year implementation.

November’s meeting will focus on elementary reading, and in December, discussion will center on the district’s website.

Board member Robert Lichtenfels questioned whether holding the meetings before the regular voting meeting would be enough time to go through the agendas. Dill said he included a note on the meeting schedule that administrative progress should be reported to the board at the following work session as part of the administrator’s board report.

“The principal or the administrator responsible for each night — because some deal with high school, some deal with technology, some elementary — perhaps that could be part of their report to the board as an ongoing update as to how they’re proceeding on these things,” Dill said, “because I don’t expect to do everything in one night, because some of this stuff is ongoing.”

The board approved and entered into a one-year contract with ARIN IU#28 that began Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2014, to provide technology management, technology services and support, and technology consulting and integration for the district at $115,000. While the agreement was approved in September, Davis said the board had to get the details of the contract finalized, and it also authorizes the appropriate board officers to sign the contract on behalf of the district.

Also approved was a publisher agreement with Thought Process Enterprises to provide alternate revenue through Internet site advertising for a 5 percent revenue to the district, effective Aug. 1 of this year through Dec. 31, 2014.

Davis said the district heard a presentation from the company, which goes out and finds people who want to advertise on the district’s website as well as screens them “to make sure that they’re appropriate for the audience that we’re going to hope to generate with our website.”

“What helps them make money is if they have a lot of districts, they can go to the advertisers and, just like a television show, can charge more for their advertising if they have higher ratings; they can get more money from advertising and then we make 5 percent of that,” he added.

The district also has total control over what is advertised.

“If there’s an advertiser that they’ve screened that they think is appropriate that we don’t, all we need to do is say, ‘No, we don’t want them,’ and it’s not on our website,” Davis said.

The board also approved finance director Gerald Kalinyak to prepare specifications and a request for proposals for transportation services for the district’s services, and authorized Kalinyak to advertise that request. The contract with Krise Bus Services, which is part of Student Transportation of America, is up at the end of the 2013-14 school year, Davis said.

“We thought the reasonable thing to do would be to see what’s out there,” he said.

The law firm of Fanelli Willett was appointed as the district’s labor counsel at $155 per hour on Tuesday.

The district previously had used Andrews & Beard Law Offices out of Altoona. Two of their primary attorneys that worked with United, Patrick Fanelli and Aimee Willett, have gone on to form their own law firm, still based out of Altoona, Davis said.

“Since they were the ones that had done most of our work here, we decided to go with that firm,” Davis said, adding that the district was “very pleased” with the work of Andrews & Beard, but “based on the fact that Mr. Fanelli and Miss Willett had been doing our work, we thought for consistency we’d go with their firm.”

Davis said the district is looking at a teachers’ contract soon, but could not elaborate. He said Fanelli’s area of expertise is contract negotiation, while Willett’s is mostly school law, but “they’re both pretty helpful in the areas of negotiating contracts.”

The board approved a building usage request from Robert Bishop on behalf of Alumni Football USA to use the high school football stadium, scoreboard, U.S. flag, locker rooms and sound system from 4 to 10 p.m. Nov. 2 for an alumni football game between United and Laurel Valley.

Pre-sale tickets will be available starting Tuesday for $10.

“We encourage everybody to buy the tickets ahead of time here,” because if they’re purchased at the gate, most of the proceeds go to Alumni Football USA, Davis said. If they’re bought pre-sale at the school, part of those funds go to the district.

“It’s a big fundraiser,” he added. Lichtenfels said the school’s midget football program will run the concession stands and hold the game ball raffle. They made more than $5,000 the first year they did it, he said, and paid for brand-new helmets.

Last year, they also held a clothing drive during the game for a local family displaced due to a fire.

Truckloads of clothing and personal items were donated for use by United district residents, Lichtenfels said.



Heather Blake is the wire editor and an assistant web editor for The Indiana Gazette. She covers courts, Saltsburg and Homer City borough councils and Penns Manor and United school districts, in addition to writing feature articles. She can be reached at hblake@indianagazette.net.
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