Local News

School board eyes expansion, hears plans for home-school athletes

Petersburg school board is going to look into expanding from five to seven members. The current board hopes that change could improve board member attendance at monthly meetings and help with the workload. The board also heard about plans to include home school students on local high school sports teams.

Tuesday’s meeting was attended three board members, just enough for a quorum to conduct business, with John Bringhurst and Sarah Holmgrain excused. Board president Jean Ellis wanted to start the discussion on increasing the board numbers. “It just seems like a few more people makes a difference,” Ellis said. “And I really think we haven’t had a problem filling the school board seats. We don’t often have many people running against us. But they’re at least concerned enough they wanna make sure the seats are full.”

“I would agree with you Jean, that’s what I’ve found in the past that it just gives you a little more leeway with vacations, travel and work,” responded board member Dawn Ware. The borough charter approved by voters in December has the board at five members and it will likely take a public vote to make the change. With no election this year, the earliest that could happen is 2014. Only Ellis and Cheryl File ran in last year’s borough election and they appointed Bringhurst, Holmgrain and Ware to fill the three vacant seats until 2014. Ellis, File and Ware Tuesday were all interested in the possibilities for expanding the board and directed superintendent Rob Thomason to research the issue.

Also Tuesday, the board approved the second reading of policy change that will allow home school students to participate in activities at the high school without being enrolled in classes there. That’s a change mandated by a new state law.

KFSK file photo

Athletic director Jaime Cabral told the board that home school students will have to fill out some paperwork. “That big four page document is basically what each home school student that comes into our, that considers Petersburg their school of eligibility will have to file,” Cabral said. “Each student, I will sit down with their parents and the student and we’ll have to go through this checklist and make sure this information is accurate.”

The students have to be in an accredited home school program and will undergo grade checks and meet grade minimums like enrolled students. The allowance is only for high school activities and it’s not for all of the activities. Class enrollment is required for participation in state music, art and world language activities.

District officials anticipate charging a 500 dollar per activity fee for home school students to offset the schools costs for each sport. Meanwhile, the fee for enrolled students may be increasing this year from $80 to $100 and Cabral said administrators are considering a $300 cap for families who have multiple students in sports or one student in more than three activities. He anticipated having an informational session this summer for parents and home school students interested in competing for PHS teams.

In other decisions, the board approved a new three-year contract for district support personnel, which includes instructional assistants, custodians and cooks, among others. That agreement provides two percent pay increases each year for three years and a change in how those employees can use their personal leave days.

The board also approved new math books for the middle school recommended by the district’s curriculum committee and approved a budget for the upcoming year. The board has no monthly meeting in July and next meets August 20th while students don’t return to school until September 3rd.

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