The minutes of the June meeting were approved.
Under Administrators' Reports, Superintendent Matt Gordon reported that “The campus of Canton is busy again...the staff has done a fantastic job over the summer. The principals and support staff have done a remarkable job of gearing up for the school year.” He said that the high school was the site for three days of BLaST IU 17 training. Schedules for the faculty in-service days have been sent out.
Mr. Gordon briefly discussed the state budget situation. “We are in day 43 for the budget stalemate,” he said. “The Governor and the legislature are at odds. The Governor is holding out for his education budget. There has been some movement in pension reform, but [a resolution] is a long way out.”
Mr. Gordon said “there is an outcry over the PSSA data.” He said the assessments were more rigorous and the score thresholds were raised and some standards moved. He said “What was the sixth grade [threshold] now is fourth grade.” Mr. Gordon likened the shifting standards to target shooting. “We were sighted in for 100 yards and they moved the target to 500 yards, and we missed.” He added that Lancaster County Schools that had scored in to 90s now were in the 40s. “No gaps were closed. There is work to be done – absolutely, but we have a mechanism for improvement” he said. He repeated what he had told the board in June: “Our kids were better prepared and the teachers did a better job than ever.” He said, statewide, “No one stayed the same, some benchmarks went down by 10 to 30 points. “We’ve got to start from scratch, go back to the drawing board, and get everything dialed back in.”
Because 48% of the student population is classified as disadvantaged (through food stamps, welfare and Access), 100% of Canton students will qualify for free meals. This will require a $20,000 change in the contract with the Nutrition Group. “It is a dubious honor to be the poorest district in IU 17,” Mr. Gordon said, to have the entire district qualify for free breakfasts and lunches. “At least the kids will benefit. That’s the upside.”
Elementary Principal John Rimmer welcomed Abigail Williams as a new fifth grade teacher and Jason DeLozier, who transferred from Kindergarten to Title Reading. Kindergarten Camp will be held August 17, 18, 19 and 20. He said Alicia Jennings will provide a school bus so the Kindergarten students can better acclimate to bus routines. The district will continue its recent practice of splitting the Kindergarten class on the first days. This year, only girls will go on the first day (August 31) and only boys on the second day (September 1). Everyone will be together starting the third day. By splitting the class, the transition to school is simpler, with fewer students. “They will get familiar with routines and procedures, and it makes the cafeteria line much shorter,” Mr. Rimmer said.
The PTA book fair will be held the week of September 14, and Open House will be September 24 from 6 to 7:30 pm. “The building is looking good,” Mr. Rimmer told the board. “We have good attitudes, lots of refreshed attitudes.” Early enrollment figures show 496 expected to be in the elementary school at the start of the school year.
High School Principal Craig Coleman said that a meeting was held for the parents of student athletes. Thirty-six students are out for varsity football; twenty-five for cross-country (Jr. High and Varsity); and twenty for volleyball. One hundred nine athletic physicals were given on August 5 by Dr. Weis and CASD staff. Sports practices will begin August 17; Heat acclimation days for football (under PIAA requirements) began this week.
Seventh grade orientation will be August 27 at 6 pm, starting in the cafeteria.
More than forty students are attending Band Camp. Mr. Coleman said, “Kudos to [Band Director] Diana Bailey for bringing the band back.”
Estimated enrollment in the elementary school is 407.
The district had been using V-link for cyberschool through BLaST, but this year the program will be offered through the Wellsboro Online Academy. Students who opt for a cyberschool education will be able to utilize this for full-time education through the school district. Wellsboro Online also will be used for individual credit recovery and additional course offerings for gifted students that are not provided with non-online learning. This could result in a financial benefit to the district. It costs the district $9,910 for regular students enrolled in a cyberschool and $19,391 for special education students. The cost through Wellsboro Online is $3,000 per student. “Cost-wise it will be effective,” Mr. Coleman said. “We will see if it works academically.”
Special Education Supervisor Dan Coran said seventeen students from Troy and Canton participated in the Extended School Year program, held at Canton this year. It is projected that 165 Canton students with IEPs, 24 with 504 service plans and 37 in gifted programs will be served by special programs this year. Training will be conducted for paraprofessionals, who are required to have twenty hours of professional development annually.
Business Manager Mark Jannone thanked the staff for their work in getting the buildings ready for the school year. “We started the day after graduation,” he said, “and have made a lot of improvements.” Woodward Bus Co. sold its busses to Jennings Transportation, and Mr. Jannone observed that “the district is down to four contractors (Jennings, McMurray, Yaggie and Doud). “All four are outstanding. We are lucky to have them,” Mr. Jannone said. “Woodwards did outstanding service to the district.”
Mr. Jannone said that the Community Eligibility Provision, which qualifies all Canton students for free breakfast and lunch, “is a unique opportunity. We would rather be more wealthy,” but he encouraged every student to get the free breakfast and lunch – "everyone is eligible.”
Mr. Jannone then introduced Audrey Bear of R W Baird, who was engaged by the district to refinance the 2010 bond issue. The board authorized this in June, provided that a net minimum of $100,000 could be saved. Had the district been able to do this last month, the savings would have been about $135,000, but the refinancing could not legally occur until 90 days before the November call date, and with the decline in the interest rate markets, the savings were less. Ms. Bear said that fourteen banks expressed interest in the refinancing, but only four responded to requests for bids; and only two of them provided a fixed rate. She said that First Citizens Community Bank offered the best terms, with “net present value savings, after all costs of doing business, is $104,273.” The board voted to contribute $500,000 from the fund balance to paying down the debt. Mr. Jannone said that with the state budget situation, the district has to be concerned about its cash flow. “No one can predict when the budget crisis will end, but we can weather the storm.” Ms. Bear said that because the bond will be refinanced in its entirety, an additional $750 will be saved each year.
Food Service Director Shawna Lee said, “I am very excited” about the Community Eligibility Provision, which makes the students eligible for free meals. “We encourage everyone to participate in the breakfast and lunch programs. She said that employees will need a certain number of hours of training. She said the school is “good to go in the Food Service Department.” She said kids who bring a bag lunch will have to pay for milk, and also the district must charge for seconds or extras. Mr. Jannone said that other district served by the Nutrition Group that have qualified under the Community Eligibility Provision have seen a 15% increase in sales. From the audience, Rosemary Fitzwater asked if it was mandatory that the district enter the program. The administration responded that it was not mandatory. Mrs. Lee said that the students who get the full National School Lunch Program meals would get the first meal free, but would have to pay for extras. Mrs. Fitzwater wondered if it would present a problem if children who could not afford to pay for seconds would see others purchasing seconds. Mr. Jannone and others answered that it always has been that way.
The board approved the Treasurer’s report, bills lists, list of tax adds, exemptions and exonerations; the transportation changes, the transportation drivers list for 2015-16, new transportation contracts, agreement and daily rates for 2015-16; a dual enrollment agreement with the Wellsboro Online Academy for 2015-16; an agreement with the Southern Tioga School District for the purchase of 3rd and 5th ELA curriculum at a cost of $1,600; and a revised budget with Nutrition, Inc.
The retirement of Social Studies and Driver Education teacher Patsy Baxter was accepted, effective September 15, 2015 after 22 years of service. Mr. Wilcox congratulated her for her career at CHS.
The board also accepted resignations from Linda Scott, evening custodian and Katie Steever, girls head track coach.
Three employees were hired: Kimberly Hoffman, part-time cafeteria worker, $8 per hour with no benefits, Melody Barnes, full-time evening custodian, $9 per hour with full benefits; and Samantha Thomas, band front advisor, stipend of $2,152.70.
Lori Ayres was transferred from part-time cafeteria worker II (no benefits) to full-time cafeteria worker I (full benefits)
Tiffany May, nurse; and Mindy Hartford and Vicki Douvier, both cafeteria, were added to the substitute lists.
Three coach volunteers were added: Brent Hartford and David Machmer, football; Shannon Abercrombie, cross country.
The board approved the Elementary and High School student and teacher handbooks, the High School academic planner, and the CASD Employee handbook.
The elementary and high school central treasury reports for the 4th quarter were approved.
The Level 1 and Level 2 Booster Club personnel were recognized as volunteers working on behalf of the CASD students.
The board approved an application from Charles Emerson Snyder under Operation Recognition for an honorary diploma.
Prior to tonight’s meeting the board held an executive session for personnel matters.