DUKE CENTER — Earlier this week, the Otto-Eldred School Board listened to a group of sixth graders as they presented a request to change their field trip from Corning, N.Y., to Washington, D.C.

Based on the pricing received, the board approved the field trip and plans to hold the trip each year for every sixth grade class.

The board continued the evening meeting by approving two roofing projects, both with David Maines Associates Inc. as the contractor. The original portion of the elementary school will have roof restoration work done as well as a total replacement on the ballasted roof above the library. Superintendent Matthew Splain reported the remaining sections of the elementary roof to be in good condition and suggested waiting one or two more years so that funds can be saved to pay for the project.

A discussion was held about what will be done with the three historic fan-shaped backboards that will be replaced in the gym. One of them will be donated to the sports boosters, one will be available via bid, and the last one will be used to create a display as an historic tribute in the gymnasium.

Meanwhile, budget transfers were approved that will allow the district to purchase a new fire alarm panel at the high school as well as updated security camera system for the entire district.

Splain shared his priorities as 2020-21 budget preparations begin. Support for student mental health needs as well as career and college readiness planning were highlighted as priorities.

In administration reports, Lindsay Burns, principal of elementary and special education, reported that parent-teacher conferences were a huge success. The elementary school had around 95% participation by the parents for conferences. This allows for open communication between home and school and provides the best support for students.

Burns also reported that Jim “Basketball” Jones was back at O-E conveying his message of respect and positive choice-making for the elementary students. The assembly aligned nicely with the elementary PAW Pride program.

On Veteran’s Day the elementary was able to honor around 50 local veterans, according to Burns.

Melissa Merry, director of curriculum and instruction, announced that a group of elementary teachers will be attending upcoming LETRS and TDA trainings, which support their ELA instruction. A positive response from staff has been shared as they are completing their last third of an in-house math professional development.

Merry also announced they have an approved plan with the PA SmartGrant, which is geared toward improving computer science education. Slated improvements include an elementary innovation room and a Computer Science & Innovation Fair. Information will be shared with staff and then rolled out to families once plans have been finalized.

In regard to student testing, winter Keystone dates have been set in January and information will be sent home soon for those students involved.

High School Principal Harley Ramsey reported he is currently looking at scheduling options for 2020-21. Industrial arts, science, health/PE, STEM, agricultural science, online options and possibly driver’s education are all major considerations moving forward.

Workforce data from McKean County strongly supports expansion of programming in agriculture and natural resources. This continues to be an area of exploration for the district. Ramsey has spoken with representatives from the state Department of Education, the Seneca Highlands Career and Technical Center, Penn State University, the Potter County Education Council, and several public schools to better understand the implications of expanding an agriculture and natural resources program requiring Chapter 339 approval. Splain and Ramsey will review staffing and funding in detail in late December and a report will be presented to the board in January.

Ramsey also reported that the Otto-Eldred Ministerium has met with interested seniors to begin planning for Baccalaureate in May. They have requested directory information for the purpose of sending invitations, scholarship information and other literature related to the Baccalaureate service. As per FERPA regulations, parents have been notified in writing and will have the option to opt out. The deadline is Dec. 3.

In graduation planning, there are currently 45 seniors on roster. Tentatively, each graduate will get five tickets on the floor for the ceremony.

Ramsey also reported on athletic programs. In an attempt to improve the wrestling co-op between Oswayo Valley and Otto-Eldred, they are proposing that a wrestling match be held at O-E. This will be between OV and Bradford.

Participation looks good for all winter sports. Wrestling and swimming both have increased numbers. Both basketball programs currently have very high numbers and tryouts and cuts will most likely be a possibility.

Lastly, Ramsey reported on social media and vaping trends. Social media continues to be an overwhelming issue for students and parents. Failure to maintain appropriate use of technology after hours has bled into school operations. This is an issue the district continues to monitor and will attempt to educate families as each new case arises.

Vaping is a continuous problem. Due to the concealable nature of devices, locating devices and paraphernalia is a challenge. Ramsey is investigating online drug, alcohol, tobacco and vaping education programs that can be used as part of the consequences for violations.

In staffing and supplemental positions, Fawn Miller was approved as a mentor for HS LTS science teacher Rea Gibble. Jennifer McDonald was approved as a part time para educator for the high school. Susan Magee was approved as a substitute aide. Mark Miller was approved as a volunteer for the boys’ basketball program.

The SEAL Team was given approval to attend the annual competition on May 7 at Bradford Area High School.

A work session is planned for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the elementary technology center. The focus of the work session will be extracurricular rules and responsibilities.

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