Mt. View board reviews policies

BY ROBERT L. BAKER

Mountain View School Board reviewed a number of policies and bills at its Nov. 14 work session.

Business manager James Mirabelli clarified with board members where the district stood on its budget fund balance designations.

He noted that $1.5 million had been set aside for future anticipated state pension increases, $300,000 for future caps, $243,000 for increases in health insurance, $50,000 in self insurance premiums and $557,000 for early retirement benefits payout leaving $1,099,920 that can be used for general purposes.

In a review of bills totaling $150,397, board member Dava Rinehart-Cowan wanted to know about a wheelchair purchase for $3,000.

She said that if a student needed that sort of customized vehicle to maneuver around the school buildings, then in all reality that student probably had a comparable vehicle at home, and it should have been explored how to facilitate making that work at school.

Susan Pipitone, director of special services, acknowledged the purchase “was a mistake” and the expensive wheelchair was going to be returned.

Rinehart-Cowan said, “So, we’ll have spent $1,800 (in shipping costs) for nothing? That doesn’t give our taxpayers anything.”

Parent Vicky Mason of Kingsley said that her son was prepared to enter the workforce as a work component part of his educational plan in September, but because the school had no transition coordinator, it wasn’t happening.

“I was told by Mrs. Pipitone, ‘Sorry,’” Mason said.

“Well, sorry don’t cut it if it’s not getting done,” she said.

Again Pipitone acknowledged that because there was no board-appointed transition coordinator in the school, that part of the student’s educational plan should not have been approved to begin with.

“You mean you can’t give up someone for one hour a week?” Rinehart Cowan asked. “That needs to be a high priority.”

Resident Roy Twining said that by lack of a transition coordinator, “students are losing out. A few students who are seniors don’t have a transition piece of their plan even though it’s supposed to be implemented when they’re age 14.

He suggested a committee made up of parents and educators needed to be created to correct the deficiency.

Pipitone said it was her understanding that there had not been a transition coordinator in place for four or five years.

The board had discussed the possibility of appointing a half-time person, but Rinehart-Cowan said, “We need to address the needs. We’re not even sure what we need.”

And she added, “We are already $111,000 over budget now. How can we pay for this?”

In the administrators’ reports, Superintendent Andrew Chichura was to share with those in attendance a video clip of how anotherPennsylvaniaschool district – which likeMountain Viewhad undergone dire cuts in recent years – was making the best of it, and thought the video might provide some inspiration for the board.

The story fromMifflinCounty, was seen in part in video, but the audio was not functioning, and Chichura said it would be shown at a later meeting.

High School Principal Andrew Doster acknowledged the successes of the schools’ boys’ and girls’ soccer teams in the recent district and state playoffs.

He also noted that report cards would be going out Thursday (Nov. 17) and parent conferences would be held that night.

Elementary School principal Robert Presley said that report cards would be going out Wednesday night and conferences would also be available Thursday.

Karen Voigt, director of curriculum and instruction, talked about a 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant opportunity which she said the district was seeking in conjunction with other schools in the Northeast Intermediate Unit.

She acknowledged that Kelly Richmond had been successful in receiving a $1,000 grant to start a gardening program through Exxon with a few details and how it was to be implemented.

In Robert Taylor’s building and grounds report, Rinehart Cowan said she noticed “the power went out four times last month burning up two motors because of it. Is there anything you could do, so that wouldn’t happen?”

Taylorsaid he felt part of the problem was the response time from Claverack.

He noted that in the past response times from workers from Claverack’s Montrose office was around 30 minutes, but coming from the Tunkhannock office, “It’s now taking two hours.”

Board member Todd Adams complimented those responsible for “very nice programs” the previous week on a Veterans Day theme.

Rinehart-Cowan said the high school play which ran Nov. 4-5 was also “very good.”

Board members Mark Phillips, Jay Wescott and Gina Yarrish were not present at the Nov. 14 meeting.