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Greensburg Salem eyes Act 80 training days for teachers

| Thursday, March 7, 2013, 7:49 a.m.

Greensburg Salem school directors on Wednesday again discussed the possibility of adding Act 80 days to the school calendar.

School districts use Act 80 days to train staff, and students don't attend school but get credit for doing so.

Some directors expressed opposition to adding two Act 80 days, as previously discussed, but said they would consider having one such day.

“My problem lies with taking two education days from the kids,” board President Nat Pantalone said as the discussion began.

Superintendent Eileen Amato and other administrators said they dislike losing the days to educate students. But they explained that more time is needed to train teachers in state-mandated items.

Sex abuse reporting, state testing procedures and teacher evaluations are among the mandated training topics, administrators said.

“We're required to do all these things that are taking much more time,” added Kenneth Bissell, coordinator of secondary education and instruction.

Last month, Amato said a tight budget made it impossible to bring teachers in for training over the summer.

She told directors that she believed most teachers would give their free time to do the training, but not all would. Some of the state-mandated training requires 100 percent attendance by teachers, Amato said.

Directors then began discussing going with one Act 80 day, instead of the previously discussed two. Amato said she believes the training could be done in one day.

“If you can do it in one day, I'll support it,” director Ron Mellinger said.

Both directors and the state education department officials must approve the district's using Act 80 days before they can be added to the calendar.

Directors also discussed the purchase of iPads by the district for directors. The electronic devices would cut down on paper expense for meeting booklets and other informational items given to directors, advocates said.

“You're talking maybe $5,000, $6,000,” director Lee Kunkle said. “It's going to eliminate this paper every month.”

Using iPads would make it easier for directors to find past information they store on the devices, rather than turning to district staff, Director Barbara Vernail said.

In another matter, a “reshuffling” of a 2010 bond issue could net the district about $220,000 more to use for capital projects, business manager James Meyer told directors.

Directors plan to discuss the bond more.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for TribTotal Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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