June 26, 2012ALTON — The Alton School Board voted to add a pair of teaching positions during its meeting on Monday, June 25.
The first position will be an additional pre-school teaching position, and the second will be an additional fifth grade teacher.
The board had planned to draw names for the pre-school lottery, but the board made a motion to accept six three-year-old children and a total of 13 four-year-old children into the pre-school program.
Additionally, the motion provided the administration work creatively to find the funding to hire a new teacher.
A concerned parent brought forward the fact the incoming fifth grade class will have 55 students, which was planned to be split up into 28 and 27 students in two different classes.
A school policy gives the board authority to hire an additional teacher if two classes exceed 54 students.
The three classes will be split up to 18, 18 and 19 students. Superintendent Kathy Holt recommended the hiring of a third teacher and elimination of a teacher's assistant.
Chair Jeff St. Cyr voiced concern about funding the two positions, and Principal Sydney Leggett said providing classroom space for two additional teachers would be challenging.
The board approved the hiring of additional fifth grade teacher by a vote of 4-1, with member Steve Miller opposed.
There was a lengthy discussion regarding the pre-school lottery.
Member Krista Argiropolis objected to having the lottery.
"I don't think education should be a lottery," Argiropolis.
Member Terri Noyes questioned the balance of students classified as "peer models" and students with an Individual Education Plan (IEP). She felt that there should be more peer models included.
Holt advised against accepting all the students, as it would require more staff and more space.
Miller said he is confident that the administration can find a way to make it work and agreed that the number should limited to the students currently in the lottery.
Leggett said that a grant involved with the pre-school funding could be tied to a maximum number of students.
During public input, St. Cyr thanked Holt for her years of service as the superintendent and wished her well in her retirement.
Holt said she has enjoyed her time at ACS.
"It has been a wonderful five years," Holt said. "I have really enjoyed my time here. It's a great school and a great staff. Thank you very much."
At the beginning of the meeting, Derek Pappaceno was introduced as the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teacher. He will be teaching two life science classes and will be cross-cutting and working with different teachers in fifth through eighth grade.
Linda Wilman, the Gifted and Talented Enrichment Coordinator, talked about Pappaceno's new position.
She said he would be working with different teachers on longer project-based units.
Pappaceno will be working with a reading teacher and incorporating math into the classroom. He said that a club may also be created and that he would be working towards learning a subject and away from memorization.
Leggett expects to see more applied work in the classroom as a result of the new STEM position.
Argiropolis suggested that he update the board on his progress throughout the school year.
Holt talked about the importance of the position.
"We have good math teachers, and we have good science teachers," Holt said. "We need someone that brings that all together."
The board approved the disposal of old textbooks and library equipment.
The board also approved implementing Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) for students for next year.
The cost of the testing is $500 and will performed during health and physical education classes. A suggestion was made to invite parents to bring in students a day or two before school starts to complete the testing.
The board approved the purchase of a new PA system by Williams Communication Services, Inc. at a cost of $12,515.
Miller made a motion the make the purchase contingent on a credit check. He also recommended purchasing a membership for getting credit checks that would save the school money in the long run.
Miller attempted to make a motion to pay for the PA out of the safety security fund but his motion didn't receive a second.
The board approved encumbering $4,000 for playground carpeting, which is a mulch-like material, for the playground and an additional $1,682.50 for the same material underneath a new swing-set.
The Alton PTSA is donating the swing-set.
Other monies encumbered include the money for the new telephone system, which is being paid for through E-Rate grants, $7,800 for new drainage and $50,000 for a new security system with an electronic locking system.
The total amount of money encumbered is $106,784.
Miller made a request to separate the PA system. The PA system was approved 4-1, with Miller opposing, and the rest of the encumbered items was approved unanimously.
The board approved the hiring of a new third-grade teacher and a pair of para-educators.
Vice-chair Sandy Wyatt brought forward a concern about iPads that teachers received as part of their professional development.
Leggett looked into the issue and said that some schools allow teachers to pay a portion of the cost of equipment so that they can keep it.
The board agreed that the school should have a policy on the issue.
Jack Allen, the buildings and grounds director, talked about creating a Request for Proposal for the new security card system. He will be bringing forward an RFP at the next meeting.
Leggett said she was excited to finish her first year and is looking forward to next year.
The SAU office will closed on Wednesday, July 4.
The next scheduled meeting of the Alton School Board is on Monday, July 23, at 6 p.m. at Alton Central School.
Tim Croes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126