Elk Lake hires law firm

BY PAT FARNELLI

The Elk Lake School board has retained a law firm to represent the district in a situation involving the Williams pipeline company, which plans to construct gathering lines on the school district campus, it was announced last Thursday.

Superintendent William Bush said that the district was notified of a proposed right of way for a pipeline, extending from a pad on school pipeline and following the school district property line and crossing part of the school campus.

The proposed line will be located near the Elk Lake fire hall.

The board voted to appoint attorneys Abrahamsen, Conaboy & Abrahamsen of Scranton to handle legal matters involving the Williams pipeline.

One of the visitors attending the meeting asked if there was a report on royalty income from the Cabot Oil & Gas natural gas wells located on the school property.

Usually a chart with recent royalty payments is provided at the meeting. School board secretary

Kim Hollister said that she could provide that information, and estimated the last royalty payment at $23,000.

In other business, Bush, junior high principal Brian Mallery, and senior high principal Ken Cuomo reported on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test scores and the Annual Yearly Progress based on them.

The school did meet AYP status for the district in general, but several benchmarks previously made with straight scores were missed, Mallery said.

Bush explained that a problem with the testing statewide is that 100 percent of students are expected to meet benchmarks by 2014, and that is “unrealistic,” he said.

Often, the district missed  by the score of only one student.

Special Education coordinator Pamela Staats said that the special education students are not participating on a fair playing field.

She said that special education students vary in their abilities: for example, a student with a math disability might be able to score as proficient or advanced in reading. She noted that for IEP students with severe attention problems, standardized testing is a very difficult task. Typically, their performance is two standard deviations below their IQ; but they still, by law, must be evaluated.

Elementary school principal Charles Pirone noted that the elementary grades showed a low area in reading scores, and that the teachers are working on this by having students do close reading and higher level thinking and inference questioning, working on the same story for a week to encourage deep thinking.

He also noted that the elementary has had mock elections the day before citizens vote for the past 40 years, and students have picked the winning candidate correctly every single time.

Cuomo noted that in the high school, Keystone Exams will replace the PSSAs next year. The Keystone tests will be given in biology, algebra and literature at the end of the course.

One of the three ninth graders whose entry won the Widener University engineering competition attended the meeting to explain their device recently.

Seth Tewksbury attended the meeting with teacher Tim Woolcock and brought his team’s mousetrap propelled pingpong ball launcher. The other two students on his team were Chase Orlandini and Hunter Bedell.