School board to get serious on construction

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot

The topic was so important that the Greencastle-Antrim School District school board on Aug. 15 set a special meeting to discuss the building project. The Facilities Committee had met with the architect, but superintendent Dr. C. Gregory Hoover wanted the full board present to hear details and deadlines.

“Everyone needs to be up-to-date,” he said. “This is a big deal.”

 Mike Still, Tracy Baer, Eric Holtzman, Ken Haines, Melinda Cordell and Joel Fridgen were present for the worksession. William Thorne, Brian Hissong and Mike Shindle were absent.

Hoover said the 2013-14 year looked to have the biggest student population growth ever. The district had anticipated an enrollment of 3008 and was at 3096 with summer registrations.

“We’re squeezing them in,” he said.

In the early grades, the largest classrooms were: kindergarten, 23; first grade, 26; second grade, 25; third grade, 27; fourth grade, 30; and fifth grade, 29. Hoover stated that under his ideal class size model of no more than 25 students, 5.5 more teachers would be needed.

He saw the necessity of adding classroom space.

“There is no great or easy solution. All will cost a lot of money. There is no way to slow down enrollment.”

The board set Aug. 29 as the next meeting. Fridgen asked that all candidates for school board in the Nov. 5 general election be invited to the meeting.

According to Jean Byers, deputy chief clerk for the Franklin County Commissioners, the names on the ballot will be Brian Hissong, Linda Farley, Lura Hanks, Todd Kirkwood, Ron Powers, Jim Winslow and Edward Jackson. Four seats are open.

Youth survey

Director of Education Bob Crider presented results of the 2011 Pennsylvania Youth Survey, conducted by the Community Coalition of Healthy Community Partnerships. In all areas, Greencastle students from grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 fared better than those from Franklin County and the nation.

The categories in the anonymous survey covered use of alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and other types of drugs; bullying and violence; perception of risk of harm using drugs; protective factors that guided youth; and the reasons they took risks.

The survey was introduced in 2009 and will be offered again this fall. Parents had the ability to opt their children out of it, said Crider. Hoover recommended the board approve conducting the survey at an upcoming meeting, finding it useful to see if G-ASD programs geared toward healthy behavior were making a positive impact.

Reading grant

Molly Moran, Director of Reading and Special Programs, shared that the district had been awarded another Keystones to Opportunity grant for the upcoming year. She had learned over the summer that the state had $195,000 available for the category G-ASD chose to apply for, targeting ninth graders who were struggling with literacy.

“We applied for $154,000 and we got it, every dollar,” she said. “We are excited.”

She and Hoover agreed that G-ASD had an advantage in that it had received nearly $1 million in KtO grant money for K-12 literacy projects for 2012-13, and had been recognized as developing quality programs to advance the reading skills of students. Over $850,000 was given for 2013-14.

The grant program may run another three years, dropping in dollar amount each year, Hoover said.

Easy money

Business manager Jolinda Wilson was delighted with the excess inventory online auction conducted the first week of August. Hurley Auctions had helped set it up.

The school district netted $11,000, instead of the projected $1,000, for old TVs, dishes, tools, classroom materials, computer equipment and other outdated items.

“The last minute bidding was furious,” Wilson said.

Most of the pieces had been picked up by the winning bidders on Aug. 14, as required.

Wilson was pleased with how everything fell together - middle school principal Mark Herman suggested getting help from Matt Hurley on pricing for a yard sale. Hurley thought an auction would be better. The items sold for more than expected, with only two listings getting no bids. The sale generated revenue and saved the district money on disposal costs.