RIMERSBURG – Union School District officials listened to reports on the progress and plans of district administrators as they prepare for students to return to school on Wednesday, Aug. 28.
“We’re ready and we’re excited for the school year to start,” high school principal Kris Glosser said in her report, noting that cleaning and other preparations for the beginning of the year at her building are nearing completion. “We’re really looking forward to the return of the students and teachers.”
Updating district officials on work inside the gymnasium, Glosser said that crews were to start painting the floor this week. Once finished, the paint will have to cure for seven to 10 days before it can be used.
“We’re really hopeful it will be ready for the Sept. 3 volleyball game,” she said of the floor.
District superintendent John Kimmel added to the report that the new bleachers were also recently installed.
In other items of note, Glosser said that the goal for this year’s professional development at the high school is curriculum alignment. Staff and administrators will be assessing the curriculum to ensure that it addresses the standards of each grade level.
Glosser also provided information regarding the numbers of students participating in fall extra curricular activities. There are 118 students from Union and A-C Valley participating in fall sports, a total of 37 UHS students in cheerleading, as well as an additional 41 students in the Union High School Marching Band.
“A lot of kids are really active and involved in our district,” Glosser said. “When you think of us as being a rather small school, that’s a lot of students.”
Elementary principal Tom Minick stated in his report that the maintenance staff has Sligo and Rimersburg elementary schools “looking great,” and the grounds of both buildings are ready for the students to return.
He noted that the biggest challenge facing the elementary program will be accommodating the increased number of special needs students entering kindergarten.
Minick said that he is planning a series of community workshops dealing with topics such as how to help your child succeed in school, how to motivate your child and how to discipline your child.
“We’re going to run into a lot of obstacles if we don’t start doing that,” he noted.
Minick ended his report by thanking Brooke Kriebel and Ryan Myers for their work with the district’s summer academy program, which served between 20 and 25 students over the summer months.
In his report, district superintendent John Kimmel said that some district bus routes had been reformulated for the upcoming year. The changes will mean that while some students will be walking farther to catch the bus, no students will be walking “excessive distances” or using routes that are deemed “hazardous” by PennDOT.
“In Pennsylvania, the state regulation is that schools can’t make students walk more than one-and-a-half miles [to a bus stop],” Kimmel pointed out, noting that no district students were near the one-mile mark.
In addition, Kimmel said that the district is seeking to fill two professional positions.
Later in the meeting, board members unanimously accepted the resignations of high school Spanish teacher Elizabeth Keller effective July 31 and school nurse Jacob Kosker effective Aug. 20.
Kimmel went on to report that he received a quote on the Safe Schools online staff training system that provides mandatory training for teachers and paraprofessionals on topics such as suicide prevention, reporting and more.
“It’s an all-encompassing package for those things that we need,” Kimmel explained, adding that the district could purchase the complete package for a total of approximately $825. He said add-on packages focusing on exceptional children in the classroom, as well as anti-bullying courses for students are also available. “These are all things we are capable of purchasing if we choose. It’s kind of an a la carte type of program that lets you pick and choose the things you want.”
The superintendent wrapped up his report by updating board members on ongoing efforts to transition cyber school students back into regular Union classrooms.
“Our numbers look quite a bit lower than last year,” Kimmel said. “It’s currently sitting around nine students respectively that will be in cyber compared to 20 last year.”
During the public comment portion of the meeting, the board and administrators addressed concerns about the availability of standard supplies for students in the district.
“I know a lot of people are out there complaining because the taxes went up,” district resident Tressa Smith said. “Everybody’s saying if our taxes went up why are we having to supply our students with supplies?”
Smith continued, “A letter went out...stating that supplies will be provided to students who do not have due to hardship.”
She asked if the district had enough supplies should every student declare hardship.
Kimmel explained that the district did have enough supplies, but that the supplies had been ordered warehouse-style rather than with each teacher ordering her or his own.
“Unfortunately, the perception is that all of those materials were cut, and they really weren’t,” he said. “The office ordered everything together and they will distribute to the teachers as needed.”
• The school board approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Union Education Association to bring back the position of director of special education to the district.
Immediately following, Christina Smith was hired as the new director of special education/school psychologist effective Aug. 16. In a separate motion, Deanna McGarrity was hired as the special education secretary also effective Aug. 16.
• Board members unanimously agreed to donate $150 each to the Eccles-Lesher Memorial Library, Rimersburg Hose Co. and Sligo Fire Dept.
• An agreement was approved with the Southern Clarion County Ambulance Service for the 2019-2020 school year at last year’s rate of $40 per hour.
• A contract was approved between the district and Mr. and Mrs. Ed Weaver to provide transportation services for the upcoming school year for students instructed out of the district and/or for special transportation at a rate of $1.64 per mile and $1.67 per mile for a wheelchair van. The rates are the same as last year.
• The list of the 2019-2020 bus drivers, substitute drivers and substitute special transportation van drivers was approved.
• Corri Shumaker was approved as a volunteer for volleyball for the upcoming school year.