Catasauqua Press

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Catasauqua High School block scheduling a smooth transition

Wednesday, September 18, 2019 by Samantha Anderson sanderson@tnonline.com in School

During the Sept. 10 Catasauqua Area School District Board of Education meeting, Catasauqua High School Principal Adam Schnug said the change into block scheduling went well. He noted it is a drastic change from previous years and said he is proud of the students and staff for adjusting well. While he admits there are still some details to work out, he believes they made the right choice to change the scheduling.

Amber Kalnas, one of the student representatives on the board, agreed it was a smooth transition into the new system.

“I don’t feel as stressed as usual,” she said.

She mentioned having fewer classes in a day allows her to focus and not feel overwhelmed.

The other student representative, Jacob Drummer, showed up for the meeting but had to leave before it started. He left the meeting to serve his community as a volunteer firefighter.

In other business, Kathleen Kotran, coordinator of instructional technology and federal programs, updated the board on Sheckler Elementary School being classified as a Title I school. This means at least 40 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged.

The classification of being a Title I school allows the school access to support and programs that can be used to benefit the school as a whole. Kotran noted some of the additions to the school gained through this program are a new elementary school guidance counselor and online resources such as Freckle and Pearson. The school also implemented the Wonders ELA program to combat low ELA scores.

Christina Lutz-Doemling, director of curriculum and assessment, reported there are 15 students in the district’s cyber school program.

She also noted there has been an influx of English as a second language students. She reported she is working with the staff and faculty on how best to teach the approximately 40 students. She said some are very low-proficient English speakers and she is looking into additional support and resources.

During the building and grounds report, Robert Spengler, superintendent of schools, noted the stadium renovation project is proceeding. He noted rates are down, thanks to earlier measures taken by the board. There is a special meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 2 at Catasauqua Middle School, 850 Pine St. At this meeting, more specific details will be shared about the project.

In other business, the board approved the appointment of Jamie DeLong as a certified instructional aide at Sheckler Elementary, at $159 a day; Alyssa Komarow as a noncertified instructional aide for the Life Skills class at CMS, at $122 a day; and Janice Kovacs as a noncertified instructional aide for the learning support class at CMS, at $122 a day.

The resignations of Adrienne Gorzelic, certified instructional aide at Sheckler; Matthew Merkel, volunteer assistant boys soccer coach; and Morgan Wagner, assistant marching band director, were approved.

The board also voted to approve extracurricular positions in the district, including Thomas Gintoff, assistant boys basketball coach, volunteer; Jonathan Kiefer and Ashley Schmidt, Future Business Leaders of America advisers, at $914; Andrew Gruver, National Honor Society adviser, at $1,338; Eamon Murray, freshman class adviser, at $668; Lisa Roth, CMS Scholastic Bowl adviser, at $524.50; and Amanda Dungan, assistant marching band director, volunteer.

The board approved several policies during the Sept. 10 meeting. The first was a first reading of the updated extracurricular code of conduct. Solicitor David Knerr noted the only changes were to reflect new disciplinary practices. CHS no longer does after-school detentions in favor of Saturday detentions and in-school suspensions.

The first reading of the public use of school facilities policy was approved as well. It was noted there will be ongoing discussions regarding the policy after concerns were raised by Bill Nothstein, Catasauqua Area Showcase Theatre director. The policy will also be discussed at the special meeting Oct. 2.

Knerr asked the board to approve the first reading of a policy regarding graduation requirements. He noted the state is continually changing the requirements and it does not make much sense to keep updating the official policy. He recommended changing the wording in the policy to refer to the CHS handbook for specifics. The handbook is approved annually by the board before the start of the school year, so it makes more sense to explain the graduation requirements there, he said.

The second reading of a policy regarding food services was also approved. This referred to correspondence between parents and the school regarding charging money to lunch accounts.

In the past, when the board wanted to vote on a policy, they initially had to approve a first reading and then a second reading of the policy. Board member Dale Hein made a motion to change the policy to allow for the board to vote on a policy upon the first reading on the condition the policy was sent to the board members previously for review. The motion was seconded and passed.

Sheckler Principal Eric Dauberman noted the school switched over to more online forms for parents as opposed to handing out paper forms. He reported the school had a high rate of completion for the forms, compared to standard paper forms. Dauberman reported school administrators are looking to use more online resources in the future.

The board next meets for the special meeting regarding the facilities policy and more information on the district’s stadium upgrade project 6 p.m. Oct. 2 at CMS. The next regular school board meeting is 7 p.m. Oct. 8 in the district board room in the administration building, 201 N. 14th St.