BURRELL TOWNSHIP — The Blairsville-Saltsburg school board voted Tuesday to purchase 1,070 Chromebooks to replace those being used by students in sixth to eighth grade and to replace the iPads in use by high school students.
Board President Rick Harper said 500 Chromebooks will be purchased at a cost of $120,240 for high school students, 400 will be purchased for middle school students at a cost of $92,848, and 170 will be purchased for teachers at a cost of $44,030 for a total cost of $257,118. The Chromebooks will be paid for over six years.
High school students will receive touch-screen Chromebooks, and middle school students will receive traditional Chromebooks.
Harper said the computers will be purchased from CDW Corp. and Connection Public Sector Solutions.
Superintendent Jeff Soles said the Chromebooks in use at the middle school vary in age from three to five years.
Soles also said the iPads will be sold to a third-party vendor to pay off the lease. The iPads were most recently leased in February 2017 at an annual cost of $107,021.89, reported at that time as an increase of about $1,000 over the previous lease.
Chromebooks were originally approved for use at the middle schools in 2013, and high schools have had iPads since 2012.
In other business Tuesday, the board:
• Heard from Blairsville parent and school volunteer Connie Constantino, who questioned the district’s policy on swipe access cards for volunteers.
Constantino said she is the sponsor of the sophomore class and shares responsibility as the sponsor of the freshman class. This role, she said, requires her to enter the school during hours that it is locked to set up for events such as dances and fundraisers.
Constantino said she asked at the beginning of the school year for a swipe card to allow access and was told that she would need to call ahead to pick up the card and return it after the event.
She believes others, such as volunteer coaches, are allowed to keep their access cards and requested the same privilege for herself, saying it is not always possible while working a full-time job to get over to the school and pick up the card during normal hours.
The access card would only be turned on during hours that Constantino provided in advance, not 24/7.
She also noted that during Powder Puff football practice, she was unable to allow the students entry to the building to use the restroom, and that another time, a janitor had to come in five hours early to give her access.
Board members and administration discussed the issue, with Holly Hall saying it is a matter of security.
Harper said the board’s policy committee will look into the issue, and Hall requested a list of who has swipe cards and what their access is in order to help develop a consistent policy.
• Announced that starting in the new year, school board meetings will begin at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m.
• Heard from Harper during a finance committee report that the district is on track to break even for the fiscal year.
• Approved an agreement with Pressley Ridge for special education services.
• Approved a three-year agreement with ARIN IU 28 for participation in the SchoolCast system for 2018-19.
• Accepted a foreign exchange student to attend Blairsville Middle/High School for this year.
• Approved a new Introduction to Cybersecurity course.
• Accepted a $500 Innovative Teaching Grant for Women Educators for STEM innovation at Blairsville Elementary School submitted by Eileen Jeffries.
• Approved the following field trip requests: Saltsburg Middle-High School sixth grade to Inventionland in Pittsburgh today at no cost the district; BHS Advanced Biology students to Sam Rhine Genetics Conference at Gateway High School in Monroeville Thursday at no cost; BMHS sixth grade to Inventionland on Dec. 17 at no cost; BHS student council to the 2019 Youth Leadership Conference at IUP on Feb. 20, no cost; and BHS Future Business Leaders of America to the FBLA Region 3 Leadership Conference at IUP on Dec. 17 at an estimated cost of $300.
• Approved the following supplemental positions: Kye-Won Kopko, Blairsville musical director; Mary Jo Fadden, Saltsburg musical director; George David Minda and Matthew Mlynarski, Saltsburg musical co-directors.
• Approved the resignation request of Calie Weimer, Saltsburg Elementary School instructional aide, effective Dec. 21. Weimer was approved as a long-term substitute teacher for pre-kindergarten to fourth grades at Saltsburg as the campus substitute at a prorated salary of $30,000.
• Approved Ashley Hanzes as an art teacher substitute.
• Approved uncompensated leave of four days in December for Robert Muir, custodian.
• Raised the rate for custodian substitutes to $10 per hour and approved the hiring of two part-time floater custodians.
• Approved Tammy Bowman as a bus driver for Smith Bus Co.
• Approved for Chief Security Officer Kirt Allmendinger to attend the Security Summit in Harrisburg on Dec. 11 and 12.
• Recognized the Blairsville Middle School Parent/Teacher Organization for the school year.
• Approved a probation agreement for a student identified only as #082159.