South OKs new language arts program
Although some teachers expressed their opposition to the district moving to an amplified language arts curriculum, the South Williamsport Area School Board approved the new program at their recent meeting.
Following a lengthy discussion and comments from teachers and Central Elementary principal, Dr. Michele Loomis, the board approved adding the curriculum first for students in kindergarten through grade 2 in 2022-23 and then grades 3 and 4 in 2023-24, with further discussion at a later time on when to implement for grade 5. The program will be evaluated at the end of each year of implementation.
The cost of the program, including teacher training, is being paid through American Rescue Plan funding, which is designed to address issues caused by the pandemic.
“The money is here,” said Dr. Mark Stamm, superintendent. “It’s allocated. It was given to us for the purpose of reading loss. It’s there. This is one of the rare times you can grab a core program and not cost a single local dollar. That does not happen.”
The board gave the OK to a pilot program in mathematics in grades 7 and 8.
In introducing the new program, 8th grade algebra and math teacher, Hillary German, told the board that the move to try the new program was precipitated by a decline in math test scores.
German stated that the current curriculum was lacking in the usage of word problems which are needed to help students not only with rote memorization but to learn to apply a higher order of thinking.
The current curriculum, she said, is good at the basic math problems but “it doesn’t go any further than that.”
Cost of the pilot program is $14,000 which had already been budgeted for the existing program which is being replaced. Money has also been set aside in the budget for professional training of staff to use the new program.
The Title I programs in the district were approved as follows: Title I, $343,898; Title II for professional development, $47,357; and Title IV, for safety, $26,118.
In other business the board approved the purchase of 95 new monitors for teacher desktops at a cost not to exceed $25,000.
Under personnel, the board accepted the resignations of Leigh Ann Aiken as a second grade paraprofessional at Central Elementary and Manny Tsikitas as junior high boys assistant soccer coach for the 2022 spring season.
Other personnel items approved included:
• Ashley Frei and Andrea Knapp as classroom monitors for the 2021-22 school year.
• Michael Gonzalez as junior high boys’ soccer assistant coach at a stipend of $2,006 for the 2022 spring season.
• Sara Caputo as a certified day-to-day substitute for the 2021-22 school year.
• Ben Landon and Lindsey Perry as guest teachers for the 2021-22 school year.
Board members present were: Todd Engel, Steve Rupert, Cathay Bachman, Ben Brigandi, Summer Bukeavich, Diane Cramer, John Hitesman and Nathan Miller. Absent: Sue Bowman.
The next board meeting, a work session, will be held at 6 p.m., April 11, at the high school library, 700 Percy St.