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CASD 2012-13 school year starts Sept. 4

| Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012

Connellsville Area School District students will enjoy a longer summer vacation. Students will begin the 2012-13 school year on Sept. 4, the day after Labor Day.

Barring snow make-up days, the last day of school and graduation will be June 7.

A child must be 5 by the first day of school in order to enroll in kindergarten. Kindergarten registration begins in March. Dates and times will be announced.

Directors voted on the calendar change Wednesday in order to give more time for high school renovation work.

Michael Omatick, director of buildings and grounds, requested the change because a two-story classroom addition will be started soon and continued during the summer break. "The student entrance, cafeteria and kitchen will be renovated over the summer. We'll need a long summer," he said.

When students return, they will encounter some curriculum changes.

Ninth graders will attend the high school and a new Army JROTC program will be offered. Directors approved that program last fall.

Yesterday, directors added several classes and combined others.

New robotics classes will be available: fundamentals of robotics/automation; robotics, automation and CNC machining; introduction to VEX robotics; robotics I, robotics II; robot modeling; and robotics III--AP robotics, at a maximum $4,800 cost.

A SAT prep course will be available for eighth graders at a maximum $1,000 cost.

A full-semester computer applications 7 will replace two nine-week seventh-grade classes, computer literacy I and II.

As recommended by Intermediate Unit I, Word enrichment will be available to seventh graders.

Computer applications 8, a full-semester course, will replace computer literacy III, IV and V for eighth graders.

Directors also approved adding Keystone Exams to graduation requirements beginning with the Class of 2014-15. Seniors will have to score proficient or above in the following Keystone Exam subjects: English composition, literature, algebra I and biology, as a stand-alone graduation requirement.

While the district continues to refine its curriculum and add programs based on student need, the state continues to cut education subsidies.

Interim superintendent Tammy Stern reported that Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed 2012-2013 budget keeps basic education funding level, while transportation and Social Security increased because those costs increased. Connellsville will receive $1.3 million more for employee pensions.

Corbett recommends cutting accountability block grants entirely. Connellsville will lose $464,000 for the 2012-13 school year.

Stern described cuts made in 2011 that affect the current 2011-12 school year.

"Last year, we lost $4.5 million in subsidies," Stern said. "The majority of that was due to losing the (federal) stimulus finding, which was only available for two years. The stimulus funding was factored in with our basic education funding. We lost approximately $800,000 in accountability block grant funding for this year. We also lost Educational Assistance Program Funding, approximately $464,000, which was used for after-school tutoring. We also lost approximately $260,00 in charter school reimbursement, which was why we started our own online academy."

In other business:

-- There will be a 780 public hearing at 6 p.m. Feb. 14 at Junior High East and a repeat for those who could not attend or speak at 6 p.m. Feb. 16 at Zachariah Connell Elementary School. The state requires a hearing before directors can take any action to close a school. The hearing will cover the possible closing of Zach Connell, Junior High West, both, neither or a phased closure. Directors cannot take action for at least 90 days after the last hearing.

-- The district will update its Strategic Plan, as required by the state Department of Education. Parent, teacher, student and community member input are needed. Stern said the survey is available on the district home page, , and should be completed by March 12. Meetings will be scheduled to develop the plan.

-- Directors approved an extended school year program at Dunbar Township Elementary from June 25 to July 20 for an elementary life skills support class.

-- Directors approved PennDOT's paying the district $5,400 for a right-of-way agreement. The state will permanently take over a piece of district land next to the bridge that carries South Pittsburgh Street over Trump Run in Connellsville. The state will temporarily take over a piece of district land near Falcon Stadium to store equipment and materials during work on its future replacement of the Pittsburgh Street Bridge.

-- Directors approved the Intermediate Unit 1 2012-13 general operational budget of $2.022 million. Connellsville's share is $41,587.27.

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