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BLAIRSVILLE-SALTSBURG: Comprehensive school plan available online for review

by MARGARET HARPER on October 24, 2013 11:00 AM

BURRELL TOWNSHIP — A comprehensive plan that summarizes the goals and action plans of the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District is now available for review on the district’s website.

Highlights of the 89-page document include accomplishments and concerns within the district, said Holly Gibson, who presented the plan.

Accomplishments include adding academic programming in a time of fiscal uncertainty, improvements to literary instruction, the district’s use of technology and security upgrades.

Areas of concern include “the ongoing challenge of ensuring consistency of implementation and practice, especially around curriculum alignment” in a district where two campuses are 18 miles apart, the need to increase communication tools, creating time for professional development and ensuring students “have a year’s worth of growth from school year to school year.”

Action plans to address these issues are also included in the document.

The plan, required in a six-year cycle by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, will be voted on by the board at the Nov. 20 meeting.

In other business, the board:

• Heard a presentation from representatives of Thought Process Enterprises.

Robert Phillips, marketing manager, explained how the company generates revenue for school districts through banner advertisements placed on the district’s websites.

School district websites have attractive demographics for advertisers, he said. Thought Process Enterprises helps link advertisers to publishers.

There are a handful of schools in Indiana County considering participating in the program, Phillips said.

Revenue is based on traffic, and Phillips could not provide an estimate for how much the district could make.

The board will vote on participation at the next meeting.

• Will commit $1,000,000 to the fund balance for rate stabilization for employee benefits.

• Approved participating in ARIN SchoolCast Services for the year at a cost of $235.

• Exonerated the following from the 2013 per capita tax: Paul Fink, Amanda George, Megan Hall, Jessica Lewis and John McKee, all of Loyalhanna Township; and Mrs. Charles Werner, of Young Township.

• Approved agreements with the following institutions: NHS Human Services from Aug. 1 to July 31 for a tuition rate of $128.84 a day for each student enrolled in the program for students with autism or emotional disturbances; The Meadows Universal Community Behavior Health at a fee of $30 per hour; Pressley Ridge Alternative on a tuition basis of $17,500 per year, with multi-student discounts for the first semester of 2013-14.

• Approved a topographical map survey for the Blairsville football stadium at a cost of $6,800 through McIlvried, DiDiano & Mox LLC, of Pittsburgh. The survey will examine a sloped area that was washed out in a recent rainstorm.

• Revised curriculum for the following classes: Citizenship, Desktop Publishing, Keyboarding, Computer Apps, Freshman Seminar, Orientation and Careers.

• Approved the comprehensive literacy plan as a guiding document for literary instruction.

• Approved Kathy Lupyan as district early childhood liaison, funded by the Keystones to Opportunities grant.

• Hired Nancy Jones as a private orientation/mobility contractor.

• Approved a partnership between Carnegie Mellon University and the BHS chemistry class for an instructional technology research study.

• Approved the following field trips: Blairsville and Saltsburg elementary students to the PMEA District 3 Chorus Fest, Feb. 21; SMHS Remembering Adam students and student council members to the 2013 PA SADD conference at Seven Springs, Nov. 13; and SMHS Natural Philosophers’ Guild to Climb North, Wildwood, Nov. 3, all at no cost to the district; and BSSD ninth-grade students, ICTC tour, Dec. 17, at a cost of about $631 for transportation.

• Approved the following supplemental contracted personnel, upon the receipt of clearances: Cheri Matarrese, SMHS ninth-grade class adviser; Glenn Richards, SMHS 10th-grade class adviser; Matt Nicely, BMHS basketball JV coach; Harold Harsh, BMHS softball head coach; Justin Reed, SMHS boy’s basketball junior high coach; and John Reed, SMHS boy’s basketball junior high assistant coach.

• Approved Matt Doak as a volunteer wrestling coach.

• Approved the following long-term substitutes: Heather Charlton, learning support teacher at SMHS, retroactive to Oct. 9 through the end of the first semester, for $20,000 and no additional benefits; and Angela Wicklund, art teacher for BMHS during the leave of absence of Courtney Scherf at a salary of $20,000.

• Hired Linzi Powers as a fourth-grade teacher at Blairsville Elementary School at the first step of the bachelor’s salary scale at $50,882.

• Approved these leave of absence requests: Lori Baker, SMHS guidance counselor, from about Dec. 3 to March 3; and Joseph Baker, BES principal, from about Dec. 3 to Jan. 6.

• Appointed the following to serve as mentor teachers: Stacie Isenberg for Noelle David, and Susan Slezak for Linzi Powers.

• Approved a contract with ARIN IU 28 Driver’s Education for the district. Students and families are responsible for the cost of the class.

• Will submit reconfiguration forms to the Pennsylvania Department of Education to include Pre-K at the elementary schools at both buildings.


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