The absence of school zone warnings signs for drivers in the vicinity of Horace Mann Elementary School in Indiana’s Second Ward has prompted a review of the signage situation near all the Indiana Area School District buildings, and school officials have taken steps to get new ones posted.
The Indiana Area school board on Monday approved the purchase of 50 school zone traffic signs to be posted on streets owned and maintained by Indiana Borough and White Township at a cost of about $6,500.
Additional signs to be posted on state-maintained roads, such as Philadelphia Street and North Fifth Street, would be the responsibility of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
In other business Monday, the school board:
• Approved the attendance of all fourth-grade students in a science mission at the Challenger Learning Center in Wheeling, W.Va., on an unspecified date before the end of the school year at a cost to the district of about $11,000.
The travel was approved on a 7-2 vote, with board President Thomas Harley and directors Hilliary Creely, David Ferguson, Robert Gonga-ware, Brian Petersen, Walter Schroth and Robert Werner in favor and Alison Billon and Diana Paccapaniccia opposed.
Paccapaniccia and Billon said they wanted more information from the community committee charged with developing a Challenger Center in Indiana. Petersen, the chairman of the Academic and Extracurricular Committee, recommended approving the trip and said it is unrelated to the local Challenger Center initiative.
• Voted 6-3 to employ a consultant, Education Finance Decisions, to prepare a five-year budget model for the district at a cost of $3,000 and to present the plan at public meetings for an additional $500. Board members Billon, Ferguson and Paccapaniccia voted against the expense.
• Cast a divided voice vote to employ Education Finance Decisions to prepare a financial analysis for use during teacher contract negotiations at a cost of $6,000.
• Approved a recommendation to post help-wanted advertisements in The Indiana Gazette and on the school district and WPIAL websites for head coaching vacancies, and to only advertise assistant coach vacancies online at no cost to the district.
• Approved the donation of three boxes of aged and outdated books to The Mennonite School in Brush Valley. The books would otherwise have been destroyed, Superintendent Dale Kirsch reported.
• Employed Steve Cochran and Robyn Bailey-Orchard as SAT preparation course instructors from Saturday through March 1 at per diem rates, and to assess a $50 tuition fee for students taking the course.
• Employed Jennifer Westrick and Marquetta Pisarcik as after-school math program instructors at Indiana Area Junior High School at per diem rates.
• Authorized the boys’ basketball team to participate in a tournament in New Jersey from Dec. 27 through 29 at no cost to the district.
• Approved the planning of an educational field trip to Germany, Austria and Switzerland in April 2015 by senior high German language students and one adult.
Board member Walter Schroth, chairman of the Buildings, Grounds and Transportation Committee, told the board that the districtwide energy-efficiency improvement project is nearing completion. Roof replacement work and boiler installation have been completed in all the designated buildings, and the contractor, Constellation Energy, is working with district representatives on a punch list to make sure all work specified in the contract has been done.
Curriculum coordinator Holly Rougeaux presented an update to the board on the changes in standardized testing and school assessment, and introduced the directors to the state Education Department’s website where school performance reports are posted, www.paschoolperformance.org.
Rougeaux explained that the size of subgroups being monitored for progress has been reduced from 40 to 11 students.
She also said that the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) benchmark, which had set a target of 100 percent proficiency in math and reading skills in all schools by 2016, has been replaced with Annual Measurable Objections, known as AMO. The standard requires that schools improve proficiency halfway from current levels to 100 percent within six years. For example, a school with 80 percent proficiency in math would have six years to reach 90 percent.