INDIANA AREA: School policies get review
April 23, 2013 11:00 AM
by CHAUNCEY ROSS

A newly formed school board committee has the Indiana Area School District student attendance, behavioral guidelines and discipline policy under review, and the panel has two priorities.

Board member Diana Paccapaniccia is leading the group, and intends to get a lot of people involved and complete the work quickly.

To reach people with a variety of schedules, the committee had its first meeting at 7 a.m. Monday, and plans to meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday then 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

And facing a June deadline to recommend changes for the full board’s approval, the committee is set to meet at 7 p.m. each of the five Wednesdays in May.

“Some of the things we’re looking at are the makeup work policy, we’re talking about changing some language to make it more specific, especially concerning bullying,” Paccapaniccia said. “We’re talking about some adjustments to the Level 3 and Level 4 discipline. …

“We’re encouraging the public and parents to come out if they have any questions. And they all should have a copy of this book (the student handbook). Their kids should have them if they are in the Indiana Area School District.”

In most years, school administrators review the student handbook and make recommendations for board approval. This is the first time in recent years that an ad hoc committee of the school board has been set up to look at the rules.

The board voted two weeks ago to form the special committee, and Paccapaniccia agreed to lead the policy review because she has advocated for changes in the past.

In other business, the board:

-- Authorized the administration to advertise to hire a drama teacher to replace Gretchen Barbor, who will retire at the end of the school year. The board wants a candidate with a degree in drama.

“We’re hiring a drama person for the next 20 to 30 years,” board President Thomas Harley said.

In March, a contingent of students, parents and other supporters of the arts encouraged the board to hire replacements for two retiring teachers who serve as advisers and sponsors of many after-school music and drama groups.

The board has allowed positions to remain vacant to save money.

The board unanimously voted to advertise for an English teacher with strong drama skills; no action has yet been taken on finding a replacement for retiring music teacher Beth Grafton.

-- Directed the administration, at the recommendation of the board’s outreach committee, to solicit proposals for an advertising and fundraising consultant.

“We are looking for a person who is a professional fundraiser, who works on a commission and will help the district raise money,” said director David Ferguson, chairman of the committee. No salary is being offered for the consultant. “They will earn their money by helping us.”

-- Approved price increases of 10 cents for cafeteria breakfasts and lunches for the 2013-14 school year. Full-price lunches will be $2.65 for secondary students, $2.35 for elementary students and $3.60 for adults; breakfasts will be $1.35 for secondary and $1.10 for elementary students, and $1.70 for adults; reduced price lunch will be 40 cents and breakfast will be 30 cents; milk will be 50 cents across the board.

Kirsch said an increase for the current year and the price boost for 2013-14 are designed to raise Indiana’s meal prices to match the federal reimbursement rate for the discount and free lunch program. Business Manager Jared Cronauer said a small increase in 2014-15 should bring the district into compliance.

-- Approved a 2013-14 budget for the food service program as prepared by Chartwells, and authorized the administration to negotiate a one-year contract addendum setting a maximum operating loss of $35,000 for the food service program.

-- Approved the proposed budget of $5.97 million for 2013-14 for Indiana County Technology Center. The Indiana district’s share will be determined by enrollment of IASD students at the tech center. The total of the budget reflects a decrease of 1 percent from 2012-13.

-- Accepted the resignation notice of housekeeper Patricia Wyatt, effective April 19.

-- Accepted the retirement resignation notices of Dale McMahan, a custodian at Ben Franklin Elementary School, effective Aug. 2, and Donald Verheyen, a Horace Mann Elementary School custodian, effective Oct. 1.

District Superintendent Dale Kirsch said Verheyen has worked 35 years for the district and McMahan has served 20 years.

-- Approved payment of a total of $7,820 in per diem compensation to eight teachers of the IDEAL distance learning program, for one hour of work per week for 18 weeks in the second semester of the current school year.

-- Approved agreements with the Indiana Area Education Association for summer school courses to be taught online and to create a temporary IDEAL program facilitator position for one year beginning June 1.

-- Authorized administrators to notify officials of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 83 that any full-time food service workers not currently on the school district payroll will be considered employees of the Chartwells food service management company beginning with the 2013-14 school year.

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