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Kindergarten enrollment shrinkage effects WASD plans, finances

SUN-GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Kindergarten enrollment has improved slightly over last year’s drop, but the numbers are still down, said Tim Bowers, Williamsport Area School District superintendent.

Students may be leaving to pursue cyber school instead and the loss in enrollment will affect how the district plans class assignments and prepares financially moving forward, Bowers said.

“We have to be prepared moving forward for if those students show up on our doorstep,” Bowers said.

Bowers also explained kindergarten enrollment is important to the district’s feasibility study as it plans for student needs and how to effectively use the district’s buildings.

According to Bowers, community engagement with the feasibility study was put on hold during the pandemic. However, he said the district wants to begin to ramp up plans to discuss the district’s next steps.

One of the reasons a feasibility study came about, according to Bowers, was because of Stevens Primary School. That elementary school needs a lot of work done to meet its current needs, and that could mean intensive renovations, knocking it down and rebuilding it from scratch or closing it for good, Bowers said.

In relation to curriculum, school board member Cody Derr said over the past 18 months, setbacks have placed students in younger grades behind academically. She asked what the district was doing to bridge the gap for learners.

Susan Bigger, the assistant superintendent, explained the district is using a multi-faceted approach through an academic recovery plan to run group interventions. Whereas older students might benefit more from after-school programs, Bigger said, younger students benefit more from programming scheduled during the school day.

Additionally, Bigger explained that funding a “fifth marking period” scheduled during the summer yielded more results than typical summer school.

Over the past week or so, Bowers said the district has also had some discussion about modifying field trip arrangements, both within and outside the district.

According to Bowers, the school district attempted to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by only sending students to competitive events. However, he said although active COVID-19 cases are high in the district, numbers are beginning to trend downward both in the district and in Lycoming County, indicating the district may want to change its policy on field trips at coming meetings.

“Can we expand that? Change our criteria with more trips and allow students more movement in and out of the district?” Bowers asked.

The district provisionally approved field trips compliant with the district’s health and safety plan and all students must be in compliance with the field trip disciplinary plan requirements to participate.

Adam Welteroth, a school board member, spoke up during the meeting and praised Williamsport’s student athletes for how they carried themselves during a football game when met with inappropriate commentary.

“I’m disappointed our student athletes were once again subjected to something that should have been out of our society decades ago. It’s important we tell our student athletes and students we believe in their intrinsic worth,” Welteroth said. “Our student athletes carried themselves with the best rapport they could. I would like to acknowledge our student athletes from the way they carried themselves.”

The school board approved a released time for staff members to participate in professional development activities and approved training programs.

The district also authorized the solicitor to settle a property tax assessment appeal for 700-750 West Edwin St., which will see the 2021 market value of $1,850,000 drop to $1,202,500 and the 2022 market value of $1,875,000 drop to $1,143,750.

Also, the board approved allowing Milton Area School District to use the district’s football stadium locker rooms at a fee of $1,000 for the district’s final home football game Oct. 22.

The school board accepted the following retirements:

• Allan Bartlett, the full-time assistant supervisor of maintenance and facility operations for the district, effective May 27, 2022.

• James Crumady, full-time high school custodian, effective June 9, 2022.

• Dianne Ferguson, full-time administrative support at the high school, effective Dec. 2, 2021.

• Christine Nau declined a position as part-time administrative support in favor of other employment.

• The board also rescinded the resignation of Jody J. Schefsky, who will remain in her full-time position as a special education teacher at the high school.

The school board also approved the following leaves of absence:

• Unpaid leave for Robyn Andrews, a full-time food service worker at the high school Sept. 16-Oct. 1.

• Extension of unpaid leave for Zoie Cipriani, a part-time special education aide at Cochran Primary School, Oct. 8-Dec. 3.

• Extension of unpaid leave for Teresa Gansel, a part-time food service worker at Stevens Primary School, from Oct. 12-Nov. 4.

• Unpaid leave for Theodore Paul, a full-time custodian at the high school, from Sept. 7-Nov. 1.

• Unpaid leave for Deirdre Tran, a part-time library aide at the high school, from Oct. 7-Nov. 12.

• Unpaid child-rearing leave for Jenna Fisher, full-time speech and language support teacher at Lycoming Valley Intermediate School effective Nov. 5 2021-June 9, 2022.

The school board also hired the following staff:

• Loriann Rose as a long-term substitute teacher Oct. 20 tentatively ending June 9, 2022, unless terminated sooner, as a sixth grade teacher at Curtin Intermediate School at a salary of $55,645, prorated, to replace Kendra Cook who is on leave.

• Tammi Laurenson for extra work at her current rate as event student intervention staff at the middle school as-needed for the 2021-2022 school year.

• Approved district staff, when applicable, for service in intramural programs at $16.34 an hour for actual hours worked.

• Andrew McCann and Brittney Reese, effective Oct. 20, as substitute administrative support aides for $9 an hour up to 180 days per year.

• Rachel Brady and Lindsey Tawney, effective Oct. 20, as non-certified substitute teachers with receipt of an emergency permit at a rate of $90 a day for the first 45 days and $110 per day afterward, up to a maximum of 180 days a year.

• Anne Logue as director of human resources for the district effective July 1, 2022, for a term of five years.

The school board hired the following coaching staff:

• Allen Taylor, high school boys basketball head coach, for $8,858

• Nyric Gosley, ninth grade boys basketball coach, for $3,060

• Ethan Lee, ninth grade boys basketball coach, for $3,600

• Terrill Seward, high school girls basketball head coach for $8,000

• Samantha Lee, high school varsity assistant girls basketball coach for $4,000

• Dominique Thomas, ninth grade girls basketball coach for $3,420

• Lawrence Manikowski and Dana Smith as high school girls basketball volunteers

• Brian J. Nasdeo, high school wrestling head coach for $8,858

• Drew Dickey, high school wrestling varsity assistant coach for $3,600

• James Hockenberry, Benjamin Laurenson III, Keith Batkowski, Jared Mahon, Brian Nasdeo, Sr., Ryan Piselli and Tristan Sponseller as high school wrestling volunteers

• Brett Johnson as boys and girls swimming and diving head coach for $4,080

• Beverly J. Nuttle as boys and girls swimming and diving assistant varsity coach for $2,040

• Jeffrey Beattie as boys and girls swimming and diving, diving assistant varsity coach for $2,800

• Nathan Witmer, Cara Zortman and Susan Smith as boys and girls swimming and diving volunteers

• Brandon Lusk as eighth grade boys basketball head coach for $2,914

• Jeremy Rall as eighth grade boys basketball head coach for $2,660

• Bryce Wright as seventh grade girls basketball head coach for $2,240

• Keith Segraves as middle school wrestling lead coach for $3,200

• Sean Andrews as middle school wrestling assistant coach for $2,660

• David Becker, elementary coordinator as middle school wrestling volunteer

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