Move of some students causes concern

LEWISTOWN – Discussion around the move of Life Skills students to East Derry Elementary School at the start of this new school year was the dominant topic during the Thursday workshop meeting of the Mifflin County School District Board of Directors.

Superintendent James Estep said due to the increasing class sizes at Lewistown Elementary School and the open classrooms at East Derry, it was decided to move the Life Skills students to East Derry. But now it has been determined that access to the playground is difficult for these students because a hill leading to the playground is steep. That caused Director Beth Laughlin to express concern about students in wheelchairs and their helpers using the hill.

“I am concerned with people pushing some of the kids up and down the hill,” Laughlin said. “Someone is going to get hurt.”

Estep said due to regulations, Life Skills students need to attend East Derry for three years now that the move has been made, but something could be done temporarily to improve the situation. Installing a new playground at LES in the future to help accommodate the Life Skills students was also discussed.

In other business, Estep told the board that some language in his new contract would need to be changed to address the state-mandated evaluation process regarding the school code. Estep said the change makes the results of his assessment public and available online once it is completed.

“This will be my annual review and will give the sum of the results of the review for the public to read,” Estep said.

Vance Varner, director of secondary education, asked for the board’s feedback on the possibility of moving one of the varsity girls’ soccer games to Mitchell Field in Lewistown, so that the game could be played under the lights. While many on the board felt it was a good idea, others felt it may be a safety concern due to field size and should be looked into further.

Because of the fence that surrounds the playing surface at Mitchell Field, any soccer game at that venue would be played on a field that is smaller than regulation size. By comparison, the field the soccer teams normally use, located in front of Mifflin County High School, is surrounded by the school’s running track with a fence lining the outside of the track.

The voting meeting for the MCSD Board of Directors is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at the MCSD administration building at 201 Eighth St. in Highland Park.