EL board discusses early vo-tech option

BY STACI WILSON

Elk Lake administrators were questioned by a few parents at the Thursday, Feb. 23 school board meeting about the decision to allow in the next school year about 20 ninth grade students into a full-time program in the Susquehanna County Career andTechnologyCenter.

Junior High School Principal Brian Mallery said he thought it would be good for students, identified as high-risk, to have the opportunity to enter the program and SCCTC Director Alice Davis found out that would be possible.

Superintendent Bill Bush said when talking about students at-risk for dropping out, “advisory programs, career centers and activities keep kids in school.”

The district said they were establishing “safety nets” for those students.

Davissaid there is a lot of academic coordination between the school and the career center.

“Over 50 percent of (SCCTC) graduates go on to post-high school education,” she said.

Prior to the discussion regarding ninth graders entering the tech center program, board members heard from two students currently enrolled in the Carpentry and Cabinetmaking program.

Dominique Horrocks, aMountain Viewstudent, andElkLakestudent Evan Baltzly spoke about the house construction project currently underway.

Baltzly said he now sees how regular course work and the carpentry program go hand-in-hand, especially his geometry class.

He said he learned about the Pythagorean Theorem one morning in class and used it on the job site that afternoon.

Board members were also shown a slide show of the students’ work and progress on the house build.

The board voted to transfer about $25,000 into the house project account.

In other SCCTC business, the board plans to advertise for an instructor for a welding program.

The superintendent said the district is looking to get the program up and running as soon as possible.

InElkLakebusiness, the board discussed rate options available for the district’s self funded medical insurance.

Bush recommended an increase from the current $125,000 deductible and $1.8 million limit.

Board member Eric Emmerich agreed saying he was afraid the district could exceed the $1.8 million limit in a year.

The board decided to go with a higher deductible and set a $3 million/per person cap.

Bush said the $3 million cap provided the district more cushion and increases the overall cost by only about $2,000 for the year.

The board also voted to pay four capital project bills in the following amounts: $120,460, $29,450, $31,739 and $2,850.

Architect fees of $13,365 for the roofing project were also approved.

The board also passed a resolution regarding the payment of public funds to charter/cyber schools.

Bush said there is a statewide effort calling for the Department of Education to investigate and evaluate charter and cyber schools.

At issue, he said, was the cost districts pay to charter schools. Bush said the per student cost in the cyber/charter schools runs $4,000-$5,000 but Elk Lake funds reimbursed to those schools is $8,000-$9,000 per student. Bush said the impact is considerably higher with regards to special education students, which costs the district about $20,000 per student in reimbursements.

“There are all kinds of issues with funding for this,” Bush said. “It’s a tremendous waste of money.”