Starting Monday, Sept. 28, Elk Lake students will increase their days in school from two to four, with Wednesdays remaining virtual districtwide.
Students learning totally online with Elk Lake teachers will no longer have that option.
“We’re not going to ask our faculty to provide five days of virtual instruction when they have 98 percent of our students fully in front of them four of the five days a week,” Superintendent Ken Cuomo said during an Elk Lake School Board meeting held via Google Meet on Thursday.
The board voted unanimously to have all students in the brick and mortar schools at once on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Right now, two cohorts are alternating between in-person and online schooling while 59 students in a third cohort learn from home with Elk Lake curriculum.
The Elk Lake Warrior Academy through Virtual Learning Network Partners, which doesn’t include Elk Lake teachers, has 63 students enrolled. Others have opted for homeschooling or cyber charter schools.
While Cuomo said he cannot recommend a full reopening at this time, he feels comfortable and confident with this new arrangement, which gives district employees 10 days to prepare for having all students back in the building rather than one half at a time.
He plans to use the Wednesday of the first week under this model to evaluate how the first two days went and make changes if needed.
Keeping Wednesdays online still classifies it as a blended model in accordance with the state’s recommendations and makes it easier to pivot back to a stricter model if needed, Cuomo said.
For now, the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center will maintain its current schedule. When the board meets in October, Cuomo intends to provide another recommendation for both schools.
He also told the board that between students in the VLN program and cyber charter schools, as well as those being homeschooled, there’s an estimated $729,422 of costs that weren’t budgeted for this year.
Cuomo said that isn’t the reason for his recommendation to reopen schools four days a week.
The board also moved the date of parent-teacher conferences from Friday, Oct. 9 to Wednesday, Oct. 7, so as not to lose half a day of in-person instructional time. Conferences will be virtual, with more information to be announced.
In other business, the board curtailed the district’s partial hospitalization program, which also means notifying affected personnel of their termination/non-renewal.
The Children’s Service Center notified the district that it plans to discontinue its support of the program by Oct. 30, citing significant financial losses due to the reimbursement model for in-school partial programs and other financial challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is not an easy thing for me to ask for… At this point, there are no other agencies that have expressed an interest in continuing the funding of this,” Cuomo said.
The board also approved the following:
- Second readings for updates to nine policies (EL/CTC).
- A Family Medical Leave request for employee #144 (EL).
- Moving student activity accounts over into the 2020-21 school year (EL).
- Seth Fluck, Elizabeth Hanyon, Melissa Teetsel, Kaitlyn Depew, Jacob Hand, Jennifer Rogers and Lydia Roman as substitute list additions, pending required paperwork (EL/CTC).
- Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit 19 guest speakers (EL).
- The resignation of staff member #128 due to job abandonment (EL).
- Brianne Kaetzel as a 10-month administrative assistant at $13.20 per hour plus an additional $0.50 per hour stipend (EL).
- Payment from capital reserves for an invoice of $25,157 to Spectrum Electrical Services for main breaker replacement (EL).
- A lease agreement with Xerox Financial Services to upgrade a copier in the administrative office (EL).
- A memorandum of understanding with Susquehanna County for the district’s school resource officer at $35,732.09 (EL/CTC).
- Four per capita exonerations between Middletown Twp. and Rush Twp. (EL).
- Tuition waivers for 20 students of district employees (EL).
- Clint Tyler as an assistant golf coach ($3,026.93) and Tim Woolcock as a junior high assistant soccer coach ($3,647.48) (EL).
- 2020-21 bus contracts (EL/CTC).
- A late run contracts revision (EL).
- David Jeffries as a part-time commercial driver’s license program instructor (CTC).
- The resignation of welding instructor Steve Gillman, as well as Adam Kavka as a new welding instructor at $60,791 (CTC).