Elk Lake amends device and dress codes


Wyoming County Press Examiner


The Elk Lake school board approved several changes to the school dress code and electronic device policies during its meeting Thursday.

High school principal Brian Mallery said that the dress code, which formerly specified that acceptable piercings were limited to the ears alone, has been revised to allow for a piercing stud in the nose.

Mallery noted that students were included in the process of reviewing the dress code, and that it was decided that the simple studs in the corner of the nose were not a distraction to other students or a safety or health hazard.

The electronic device policy was also changed. A committee was formed last year to review the use of electronic devices, like cell phones, tablets, and IPods, for use in classrooms.

The policy has been revised to allow cell phones and other devices in the cafeteria or gym. If the device is being used to listen to music, headphones must be used.

Students will not be allowed to listen to music in study halls, but e-readers (Kindle, Nook, tablets) are permitted.

In addition, teachers may allow the use of devices in the classroom for instructional purposes only. For example, teachers can allow the use of smart phones instead of calculators in math or science classes, or can have a daily poll question that could be sent as a text message.

“This is the age of electronics, and educators have come around to realizing that we can take advantage of this technology,” said board president Anne Teel.

The board heard from Kim Guiton, Elk Lake’s energy manager, about a proposed energy savings project.

Guiton said that Johnson Controls is the only company who submitted a Request for Qualifications, which was required by the school board to apply to be the designated energy service company for a potential Guaranteed Energy Savings Act project.

The board voted to review Johnson Control’s RFQ, which has been advertised for three weekends with a document available for public review.

Several other energy service companies expressed an interest in providing such a program for Elk Lake, but only Johnson Controls submitted the necessary documentation, she said. This company has already performed similar programs for 19 other schools within the state.

“This action, in itself, is not legally binding,” Guiton said of the school board’s review of the results.

If JCI is selected, the board will then be asked to authorize a project development agreement which carries a potential $65,000 fee, for an investment grade audit.

This project will likely include the conversion of the heating equipment of the schools to natural gas, and replacement of the secondary school’s steam boiler system.

If the proposed project fails to meet the financial impact agreed upon, there will be no obligation to pay the fee, according to Nick Sracic, who presented JCI’s energy savings proposal at a previous meeting.

“If the arrival of natural gas (as a utility) delays the start of the project, and no implementation agreement is reached, the fee is due September of 2014, or the company will wait until whenever the utility gas is available,” Guiton said.

Ken Cuomo described his first few weeks as elementary principal after years as principal of the high school.

“I’ve learned all the chairs are very short,” he said. He has spent time visiting classrooms and has begun teacher observations.

The first curriculum night was held Wednesday, Sept. 11, with a full gym of parents attending.

Cuomo also addressed the heightened security measures now in place, including the new security doors, emergency plan, lockdown procedures, and monthly drills.

Mallery spoke of a Teacher Effectiveness program and noted the Scranton Times Tribune had an article in that day’s paper which explained how to read the effectiveness profiles.

The Annual Yearly Progress benchmark has been eliminated, he said.

Elk Lake has met the state average for all subject areas except algebra, in which it scored slightly above average as a district.

Several new  appointments were noted.

Three associate positions were approved by the board, Jennifer Saylor and Lisa Hedgewood were approved for full-time associate positions, and were both re-hired aides who had been furloughed.

Noel Sisson was hired for part-time lunch/recess associate.

A freezer was purchased as a capital project for $19,379.

Security doors were approved for payment for the first half of cost. The doors will cost $49,960 with a first payment of $24,480. These doors are a capital project, and will provide an added level of security, eventually requiring a card swipe for entry.

Twelve students were approved for tuition waiver, most of whom are children of faculty or staff at Elk Lake.

One student does not reside within the district, but the family has been affiliated with Elk Lake for a long time, and the student is a senior.

A grant for the performing arts was received from the Giana Foundation of Dallas Tex. through the Community Foundation.

An agreement was approved for The Meadows, an alternative school program, although the administrators did not believe any Elk Lake students are currently placed there.

Another agreement was approved for the EduLink program, which provides teacher effectiveness software.