MONTGOMERY - Montgomery Area school board voted Tuesday night unanimously approving changes to the schedule and configuration for the 2014-15 school year that eliminate the middle school in favor of dividing the school district into an elementary school and a junior/senior high school.
The high school will consist of grades seven through 12 and the elementary school will consist of grades pre-kindergarten through six.
School day hours will change as well. The high school day will start at 7:25 a.m. and end at 2:25 p.m. The elementary school day will be from 8:35 a.m. to 3:35 p.m.
High school Principal Michael Prowant said changes to the school day hours were made to limit the amount of lost instructional time due to extra-curricular activities, such as fall sports that cause many students to leave school early for games. He also said the new hours will help provide more time for remediation and acceleration to meet the individual needs of students.
Superintendent Daphne Bowers said the changes will allow the school district to "maximize the staff that we have left after years of reductions to meet the budget, and maximize our resources to meet the needs of our students."
New courses were approved for the 2014-15 school year as well. Five dual enrollment courses through the Pennsylvania College of Technology Now program will be offered to students who will be able to use those courses for college credit. The courses are plastics industry, sanitation, general psychology, introduction to Web page development and state and local government.
The board also approved the addition of statistics as an advanced placement course and voted to approve that an introduction to engineering design course be required for all ninth-graders.
Bowers said some of the reasoning for the requirement is to encourage more girls to be exposed to a field of "high-pay, high-need" jobs.
Other new courses approved by the board are: introduction to sociology, Web journalism II, French II and digital citizenship.
In other business, Bowers handed off a plaque to members of the Montgomery American Legion for the legion's $15,000 donation toward the high school's new Internet cafe, called the PRIDE cafe.
The plaque was designed and developed by a student using computer-aided design software.
Bowers said the cafe has become a place for adults and students to gather together and talk about life.
The board also approved:
Three new additions to the substitute teacher list for the 2013-14 school year, including Rachel Blank for family and consumer sciences, Kelly Zielinski at the elementary school and Ashley Long for elementary and early childhood classes.
The appointment of Kathy Pentz as a full-time maintenance/custodial worker at $10 an hour, plus benefits, effective immediately.