EDUCATION

Athletics, renovations, cache add variety to school board agenda

PAT FRIDGEN

With the advent of a new school year, some changes are in store at the athletic complex, due to heavy usage. The Greencastle-Antrim school board will make a decision on one issue and the administration will deal with the other.

Athletic director Vicki Ritchey informed the board Aug. 19 that she would like to move the band out of the bleachers during football games, since they take up one-fourth of the stadium seating, and move them to temporary bleachers in the end zone. That would leave more room for spectators, many of whom stand along the fence or watch from vehicles in the primary school parking lot. For the first home game, Sept. 3 with Chambersburg, she expected over-capacity attendance.

The board had received a letter signed 'Band Boosters', but with no individual names, objecting to the idea. It asked that the board rule on the issue. Superintendent C. Gregory Hoover said it was an administrative matter. He agreed with Ritchey's prediction. "I imagine the first game will be a record crowd in Greencastle."

Tom Dick, director of grounds and transportation, noted that the track around the football field was not in good shape. Because of the extremely hot summer, the surface was deteriorating from the underside. The result was potholes and buckling, he said. In addition, the runways for the pole vault and long jump were gone.

"I doubt we can get through another season," he said.

Hoover said the track lasted longer than it was designed for, but it was possible the school would not host any home meets in the spring of 2011. Officials said the track was unsafe for athletes, but middle school wellness classes, in particular, could use it with caution since the students would be wearing sneakers rather than cleats. Board members will meet at the track before the Sept. 2 meeting to inspect it, and then consider what action to take.

Public comment and more

A revision of the public comment policy before meetings will be finalized in September. Currently citizens wishing to speak on a non-agenda item must get permission from the superintendent five days before the meeting. Board president Arnie Jansen recommended it be changed to allow open comment, but anything to do with personnel was prohibited.

The procedure, printed on the agendas, would change the wording from five-minute presentations, to three minutes, with a limit of seven presentations per meeting. The first reading of the alterations passed 9-0. All board members were present: Jansen, Eric Holtzman, William Thorne, Kristy Faulkner, Mike Shindle, Howard Ritchey, Paul Politis, Brian Hissong and Joel Fridgen.

The group unanimously approved an agreement with the private Greencastle Driving School, which would allow founders Delbert Myers, during the school year, and Chuck Tinninis, joining in the summer, to provide behind-the-wheel training. That portion of driver education was dropped due to budget constraints. Myers and Tinninis have long been BTW instructors and formed their own business.

Myers said he followed PennDOT regulations and therefore could administer the driver's license test to Greencastle students enrolled in the classroom segment of the course.

In other business, Hoover said the contract with EI Associates for its services in the school renovation project had been prepared and he thought it was "fair." The project would need either a construction manager or company to oversee daily operations. He recommended Kevin Weller, an employee of Chambersburg-Area School District, who was in charge of that district's building projects, and had reviewed Greencastle's contract with EI. Weller was also overseeing the building project at the Franklin County Career and Technology Center.

"A management company would cost us $1 million," Hoover said.

Business manager Richard Lipella supported hiring an experienced individual. "For substantially less, we'll get what we need."

Hoover wanted the person active as soon as possible to save time, energy and money. He didn't know what Chambersburg would charge to subcontract Weller's services, but he was sure it would be far below a company fee.

Holtzman announced that the Earned Income Tax Collection Committee, comprised of all taxing bodies in Franklin County, would vote on a collection agency Aug. 26. The TCC had received two bids for services, with Chambersburg Area Wage Tax Bureau nearly $200,000 higher than Capital Tax Collection Bureau, which also had more modern technology. Holtzman feared that the weighted vote system favoring Chambersburg would still select CAWTB to provide the service.

Hoover said he had orchestrated a joint meeting with Greencastle borough council and Antrim Township supervisors, set for Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. The exact meeting place had yet to be determined.

The cache please

High school social studies teacher James Thomas addressed the board during the worksession. He asked permission to start a Geocaching Club, for a treasure-hunting game using GPS devices or cell phones. Players find hidden containers, which often have a log inside to sign, and they then record their experience online. He pointed out that the club members would develop skills incorporating social studies, science, math, English, wellness, geography, history and technology. Membership on geocaching.com was free and Thomas added the school district would incur no expense for the club. He planned to seek funding for GPS devices through the Learn and Service grant administered locally.

"It's just plain fun," Thomas said of the game that was growing in popularity. The geocaches are placed in public and private locations with permission, and he had personally planted some in Greencastle. He said hundreds of people in the area participated in the game.

If they needed more information, Thomas said, "I'm happy to talk about this ad nauseum."