The Spring-Ford Area School District board of education met for a work session on Tuesday night at Spring-Ford High School. The meeting was comprised mostly of committee reports, which revealed a tremendous amount of work that was done throughout the month of February.
Board President Tom DiBello filled in at the curriculum and technology meetings, which were held earlier in the month. He gave full reports on both.
Telephone system upgrade - There was a long conversation regarding upgrading the current system, which is about three years past its life expectancy. DiBello indicated the committee expressed a need to start putting a plan in place to replace the system. Director of Technology Steve Reynolds provided the committee with a lot of different numbers and options.
"The takeaway is that he’s going to explore the possibility of working with the current company to maintain the current system for another one-and-a-half to two years while he puts together a [Request for Proposal] and research on providers of phone systems," DiBello said. "Keep in mind, this needs to occur definitely in next two years. The annual cost of upgrading the system is probably between $90 and 120 thousand a year for the first few years and pares down from there."
Computer refresh program - Several computers and laptops in the district have reached their four-year refresh cycle. The committee discussed what the process would be to take care of those units. The takeaway from that conversation was that there is a need to put together a long-term plan.
"We will start to look at funds and what would be the district's best technology needs," DiBello said. "Does it make sense to refresh computers for the next four to five years or start looking at technologies and create a new strategy?"
Reynolds is putting together a plan, which will be highlighted in the 2012-13 budget.
District-wide wireless rollout - There is $150,000 from the current budget set aside for the first phase of the district's wireless rollout, which would put wireless internet access throughout every building in the district. The committee discussed several times in the past about getting wireless access to schools. This is the start of that process.
Servers - There is a need to bring additional storage devices within the district for its server environment. The committee is requesting five terabytes to be added to the environment, which would cost approximately $21,000. Last year, the district started with 30 servers, but was able to utilize more current technologies, eliminating a lot of servers. DiBello said the effort brought the district all the way down to three servers. Building on that, the district would like to continue working on its virtual network.
Security - The district is adding surveillance cameras to the external doors of the elementary schools. The budget for this project is $190,000, which will come from the capital improvement fund.
Classrooms - Classroom projectors and smart boards will be installed in 25 classrooms throughout the district. The project is funded by the PTOs from the schools that are making the additions. The cost is $2,600 per classroom.
"This is another illustration of the value the parent-teacher organizations provide to this district," said board member Bernard Pettit. "I can’t speak glowingly enough about the support we get from the PTOs."
Copy center - The district is implementing an electronic system for tracking print jobs to . DiBello said the committee is looking at the possibility of reducing some of the staff necessary for running it.
Curriculum and Instruction - DiBello said the interview process was conducted for the Director of Curriculum and Instruction position, which was left void when Johnna Weller took a job within the Boyertown School District. The committee noted that an offer was extended to an individual currently being considered for the job. They are waiting for board approval on next week’s agenda.
Zero Period - Principal Pat Nugent came and conversed with the committee about "zero period" - an intensive wellness and fitness program offered before the school day begins. The period would start at 7 a.m. and would be offered as a regular gym class, finishing promptly at 8:28 a.m.
Students would have first period designated as their gym class. Nugent said there would be two sections, following days 1,3,5 or 2,4,6. Transportation would not be provided. The approval process in place for students interested in program is the same as any other course. The course description was created by Nugent and provided to students. The maximum number of students to be enrolled in the program at once is 80 total. The board will take action at the next meeting.
Board member Julie Mullin reported the policy committee met on Feb. 13. She specifically thanked Assistant Superintendent Allyn Roche for putting together a large and knowledgeable group to facilitate the meeting.
"It was nice to have a staff and administration there to take ownership of each of the policies and explain them for those of us that are not educators or nurses," Mullin said.
Policy 246: Wellness - Director of Food Services Paula Germinario was on hand and was able to pick up on a few things within the current policy from her experience in another school district. Mostly, Mullin said, language needed updating in this policy.
Policy 209: Exams and Screenings - Staff advised language needed updating.
Policy 707: Facilities - "I have a feeling that this will be an ongoing discussion," Mullin said. "We are following up with Mr. [Tim] Anspach and the organizations this affects in the district."
Policy 113: Special Education - "A large chunk of the meeting went to these policies," Mullin said.
Staff assured Mullin that once the board approves the five policies within this category, the new policies would be brought back to the staff for education and action. Most of the changes were handed out from the state. Mullin said it was "nothing earth shattering - just house cleaning."
Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center
Board member Ed Dressler reported the Joint Operating Committee for the vocational school met on Feb. 6. The board returned to the digital sign issue. Dressler said it was determined that no variance is needed from the township to install a digital sign, but neighbors in the area are still resistant to a new sign being placed at the edge of the property.
The JOC agreed upon up to $3,000 to install wiring to provide lighting to the existing sign on the corner of the property, as well as a line out to the front of the property in case a digital sign is install in the future.
The board also proposed a budget for 2012-13. It was presented by Business Manager Donna Wilson. The budget, Dressler said, only increases by $4,093, totaling $4.6 million. This was achieved by reducing personnel expenses. There was also a $350,000 surplus from this year's budget from the three schools.
Finally, Dressler was happy to report a potential tenant to use the dental hygiene facility is being interviewed in the near future.
DiBello asked if the board was going to advertise a town hall meeting for the budget any time soon. He hoped to have one scheduled for the end of March.
Board member Mark Dehnert also reminded the board of the discussions on the status of overseas board member Clara Gudolonis, who has not attended a meeting since December. Secretary Diane Fern indicated a letter was sent to Gudolonis via email, and she responded on Feb. 12
"She apologized for the delay, as she was tied up with audits in Belgium," Fern said. "She anticipates the audit reports are going well and would be back by the end of March. I don't know if that means she'll be back for the March meetings, or if she will be back in April."
The board did not take further action on this request and the meeting adjourned.