INDIANA: Vote set on reorganizing schools
September 24, 2013 11:00 AM
by SAM KUSIC

The Indiana Area school board is to decide next month on whether — and how — to reorganize the district’s four elementary schools.

At a meeting Monday, the board set a vote on the matter for Oct. 28.

The board is weighing proposals to reorganize the elementary schools in an effort to make the most of district resources at a time when resources are waning.

Under one of the scenarios on the table, the district would send all kindergarteners and first-graders to two buildings, with the other two buildings set aside for second- to fifth-graders. An alternative is to send all kindergarteners and first- to third-graders to two buildings, with the other two buildings set aside for fourth- and fifth-graders.

Another scenario being considered is to close one elementary school, send fifth-graders to the middle school and leave the remaining three for kindergartners to fourth-graders. An alternative would be to close one elementary, leave fifth-graders at the remaining three buildings and build additions.

Should the board go either of those routes, it will have to determine which actions to take at which schools.

A third option is to do nothing, preserving the status quo. But Superintendent Dale Kirsch has said that option is the most expensive because it makes the least efficient use of district staff.

In other matters, the board gave the go-ahead for the district to begin looking for a full-time first-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School.

Kirsch said class size, about 23 students in each of two sections, is necessitating the extra set of hands. He said the district had brought on board a part-time teacher to help with what was an already large class at the beginning of the year, but it has grown even larger in the time since.

Also last night, the board agreed to discontinue cooperative athletic agreements with the Apollo-Ridge and Homer-Center school districts. The agreements allowed wrestlers from those districts, neither of which have wrestling programs of their own, to compete on the Indiana Area team.

Kirsch said administrators recommended the agreements be allowed to lapse when they expire at the end of this year for two reasons. One, he said, is low participation. The other, he said, was to preserve Indiana Area’s wrestling program as a WPIAL Class AA program.

Additionally, the board agreed to extend health insurance benefits for the family of the late Mark Hess, a junior high school physical education teacher who died suddenly on Sept. 6. Hess also was the coach for the high school swim team.

His family will now retain health insurance coverage through the district until Jan. 31, 2014. The coverage will cost the district $1,175.55 per month. The teachers’ union is making a one-time contribution of $1,000 to offset the cost.

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