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Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, 6:19 p.m.
 

The Southmoreland School Board voted not to renew its membership in the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools and declined participation in the Pennsylvania Youth Survey.

These were among the motions taken at the board's meeting Thursday. Both passed on a 7-0 vote. School directors Ken Alt and Gayle Rhodes were not in attendance.

The Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools was started by a group of public school superintendents who had concerns for students in rural and small school districts in Pennsylvania. The focus of these concerns was in two primary areas: finance and quality education.

“I don't know what their success rate is, I don't know what their influence is,” explained Superintendent John Molnar. “I don't know enough of the workings of the lobbyists in Harrisburg to make a recommendation.”

The cost for the district to renew its membership in the group would have been $940. It was deemed that the district really didn't need to renew that membership.

“If we don't get anything back from them then we don't need to spend that money,” said School Director James Beistel.

Fellow School Director Mike Bentz said the motion could be tabled to allow time to talk to local representatives and legislators to see if it was beneficial to remain affiliated with that association.

“It would already be out if they (were) doing so much for the school district,” Bentz responded. “We shouldn't even have and go and ask questions about it if it's a good program.”

The school district was involved with the association for a “number of years,” said Molnar.

As for the Pennsylvania Youth Survey, it was felt the questions were of too much of a personal nature.

Molnar said after the meeting that questions dealt with issues such as a student's relationship with his or her parents or usage of chewing tobacco or alcohol.

“I was able to obtain a sample of this survey,” Molnar said. “Based on some of the discussion we had (Aug. 1) over it, I'm recommending the board authorize administration to decline participation in the Pennsylvania Youth Survey.” According to literature from the Pennsylvania Commission of Crime and Delinquency the survey assesses the behaviors, attitudes and knowledge of students in sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades concerning alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, violence and other problem behaviors.

In other business:

• The board approved advertising in local newspapers for substitute van drivers and school security personnel.

“Right now, we're very low on van drivers and school security in terms of being able to fill those slots especially substitute van drivers,” Molnar said.

• The board authorized Solicitor David Petonic to attend the solicitor's workshop at the annual convention of the Pennsylvania School Board's Association Oct. 15-16 in Hershey.

• The board approved entering into an agreement with Safe Schools Training of Cincinnati to proved mandated approved child abuse and reporting training.

“School districts have to provide three hours of training on the recognition and reporting of child abuse and that training has to be provided by a provider that is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education,” Molnar said.

Finally, Molnar told the board 141 children have enrolled in kindergarten for the upcoming school year.

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or ppaterra@tribweb.com.

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