The May 12th Octorara Area School District Work Session included Budget updates, a recommendation to approve “Go Math,” the Facilities Committee report, and other items.
Mr. Carsley informed the Board that the District will be receiving over $1.1 Million from Pennsylvania’s Homestead/Farmstead program. The amount is about the same as the previous year.
However, the Board was also informed that Pennsylvania’s declining tax collections is threatening Education spending increases in Gov. Tom Corbet’s budget. Additionally, before the General Assembly are House Bill 2138 and Senate Bill 1316 addressing Special Education. If Harrisburg does not act quickly, $20 Million in Special Education Funding will go away.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction Elena Wilson made her recommendation for the Board to approve the adoption of the “GO Math!” program from Houghton Mifflin. The program is a K-8 program written to align with the PA Core (Pennsylvania’s version of Common Core), the main reason for the recommendation.
Go Math will be a 6 year subscription that will include both printed and online material for grades K-6, and exclusively online material for grades 7-8 to stay within the District’s iPad program. Updates are included in the subscription at no addition cost, and the funds for the program are already included in the current Budget Proposal.
Brian Norris, Board Vice-President, asked several questions included if the K-6 portion would hinder the roll-out of a proposed iPad program for the lower grades. The Board was assured that there would be no negative impact if or when iPads begin to be used in lower grades.
Hank Oleyniczak and Leon Lapp both brought up concerns that seemed more directed to the adoption of Common Core/PA Core, rather than to the program itself. Mr. Oleyniczak was concerned that not enough information has been provided to parents. The District has done outreach on Safety and a planned Emergency Response Crash Simulation (more on this below), and he feels that this important issue should have at least equal outreach to parents and the community, since it is a major change to the way students are taught.
The District received bids for Field Maintenance, which was split into 3 parts. One bidder, used and highly recommended by other area Districts and institutions, was the lowest overall bidder. However, another local company was the lower bidder for the combined fertilization portions. The Committee will be seeking to split the project to realize additional savings.
The Band Room has been dealing with an ongoing issue with water coming into the area when it rains. To help resolve this issue, holes were drilled outside, below the area, and pipes installed, to release pressure. The more than 6 inches of rain received on April 30th and May 1st resulted in free flowing water pouring out from under the building, and some water did still emerge in the Band Room. It is now believed piping may need to be installed under the Band Room floor itself to direct water outside. It is believed the water is coming from a previously undetected underground spring.
A Fire Suppression System is being installed above the stove in the Culinary Arts Classroom. Scheduled to be installed over the Summer Break are a 3 Bay Sink, and Commercial Refrigerator and Dishwasher.
The Committee received a preliminary report on the Safety/Security Polls and Community Conversation. Of 382 parents who responded to the poll, 248 were in favor of Armed Security, while 134 were opposed. Of staff, only 91 of 300 responded to the question of if they supported Armed Security. Staff opinion was 50 in favor, 41 against.
An interesting footnote to the polling of staff was that the greatest support came from the PLC. In each building, as the grades became higher, support shifted. At the High School level, staff support completely moved against the use of Armed Security.
On May 22nd at 9am, the Octorara School District with be participating with Emergency Responders in a Crash Simulation. The exercise will also include the use of a helicopter. Please help get the word out that this is a Simulation Only. Uninformed citizens may become alarmed. The rain-date for this activity will be May 23rd.
The Octorara Agricultural, Business, Environmental Science & Technology Expo will be held Saturday, May 31st, from 9am to 5pm.
Activities will include:
- Petting Zoo
- Music & Art
- Student Demonstrations
- Hay Rides
- Science Fair
- Kids Craft Booth
- Food, Vendors, and More
Elected Officials confirmed to be in attendance include John Lawrence, Andy Dinnemen, and Patrick Meehan.
Admission is FREE!