Tentative school calendar calls for Aug. 21 start

LEWISTOWN – During a brief committee-of-the-whole meeting on Thursday, members of the Mifflin County School District Board of Directors discussed a tentative school calendar for the 2014-15 academic year that once again has school starting more than a week prior to Labor Day.

The calendar, to be voted on at the board’s Nov. 21 business meeting, calls for students to return to the classroom on Aug. 21, 2014. The last day of school is scheduled for May 22, 2015.

When questioned about the early start by Board President Walter Harpster, Superintendent James Estep said, “We’re trying to align the calendar to get started a little earlier to give students more time for the high-stakes standardized testing that occurs in the spring. The down side is the kids start earlier. But the up side is they finish before Memorial Day.

“We’ve traditionally started on the 27th or 28th (of August) so this is really not as dramatic as you think. This is a very early calendar so parents can have plenty of time to make family plans.”

Estep said the calendar for the 2015-16 calendar will revert back to more normal dates.

“The 15-16 calendar will probably start a week later than this one, if adopted,” he pointed out. “With the kids getting out in 2014-15 on May 22, that will provide them with an extra long summer vacation.”

Estep said moving the 2015-16 calendar back another week will allow the district to be in compliance with PIAA fall practice schedules and to build additional time into the second summer of the anticipated Mifflin County Junior High School renovation project.

In other business, during the public comment period, local resident Tammy Wagner questioned the board’s non-decision last month of waiving the $900 fee for use of the Mifflin County High School auditorium for a Christmas musical.

During the board’s Oct. 24 voting session, the request was not acted upon due to the lack of a motion.

Wagner said the fee should be waived because it is for a production that is free to the community.

“To ask for $900 is astronomical,” Wagner stated. “I’m a taxpayer. I don’t have any kids in school and I’m already paying for that $70 million school. I don’t get that we don’t have the right to use the facility unless $900 is paid. We should be able to use it without that kind of expense.”

Other items to be considered at the board’s Nov. 21 meeting include:

A change order with the McClure Company for installation of four control valves on boiler hot water piping and installation of a 3-way control valve on additional hot water piping in the amount of $9,109.64.

A recommendation to name David Haubrick lead custodian at Lewistown Intermediate School effective Oct. 21.

A recommendation to hire Sue Fluke and Tracy Bastress as part-time custodians effective Nov. 11.

The retirement of Gregory Sherlock, custodian at Mifflin County Junior High School, effective Jan. 2.

The hiring of Lorraine Ritchey for a part-time cafeteria position at Mifflin County Middle School effective Nov. 4.

Approval of Larry Denlinger as a bus driver for J&D’s.

The following teacher retirements effective at the end of the current school year: M. Elizabeth Knepp, fifth grade at Lewistown Intermediate; Tina Goss, third grade at East Derry Elementary; and Vicki Reis, Title 1 math at East Derry Elementary.

The retirement of Deborah Auker, third grade teacher at Lewistown Elementary, effective Nov. 4.

The resignation of Jill Daubert, answering service, effective Nov. 8.

The hiring of Gretchen Miller as a learning support teacher with the Alpha Program, effective Oct. 30.

A recommendation that Karen McCurdy serve as a mentor to Gretchen Miller.

The hiring of Jerold Schnell as junior high softball coach for the 2014 season.