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Southmoreland expands eligibility for Title I at elementary school

| Friday, May 15, 2009

Southmoreland School District will be able to use $233,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to benefit all elementary students, not just "struggling learners."

At Thursday's school board meeting, administrative assistant to the superintendent John Molnar said the district received approval from the state to change its Title I status at Southmoreland Elementary School from "targeted assistance" to "schoolwide." He anticipates receiving similar approval for Southmoreland Primary Center.

"We're trying to change the way we do business," Molnar said.

When working on the application to spend the one-time, federal stimulus program funds, he said the district had to find a project with long-term benefits but not with recurring costs. He said the amount available to Southmoreland was a large sum to spend only on the 10 percent to 15 percent of students who require extra help in reading and math.

Because both the schools have a poverty level that exceeds 40 percent, SES and SPC were able to apply for the schoolwide status, making every student Title I eligible.

"This gives us a lot more flexibility to spend the money," Molnar said, explaining it could be used to upgrade technology or purchase tutoring software to benefit all students.

The board approved the submission of the application, due this week. Molnar pointed out the ARRA funds are in addition to the district's annual Title I allocation, about $350,000, the application for which is due July 1. He said this money would continue to fund staff salaries for the program.

In other business, the board approved a two-year agreement with the district's cafeteria, maintenance and custodial workers. The agreement, which begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2011, provides a 45-cent per hour raise the first year and a 40-cent per hour raise the second year. Full-time cafeteria workers will receive an additional holiday, bringing the total to seven, and part-time cafeteria workers will have two sick days instead of one.

Retirees will be able to cash in 160 sick days, increased from 150 in the previous contract.

Employees' health coverage will be through a Westmoreland County Public School Health Consortium PPOG plan. Most employees who join the plan will pay 50 percent of their health coverage costs; however, the most senior employees will pay 7.5 percent the first year, with a cap of $35 per month for single coverage and $75 for all other plans, and 10 percent the second year, with a cap of $40 per single and $100 for all other plans.

The board voted to hold a special meeting on May 27 to post a 2009-2010 budget. School directors voted to reschedule their June 4 planning session to June 18 and their June 11 regular meeting to June 29.

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