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Conewago Valley school board receives renovation, behavior program updates

The Conewago Valley school board heard updates about the district’s plans for renovations and a newly-implemented positive behavior incentive system during its meeting on Monday evening.

Superintendent Sharon Perry updated the board about the district’s eventual building renovations.

Earlier this summer, the board decided against constructing new school buildings, opting instead to renovate and add onto existing district facilities.

Perry said the administration has met two times with Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates, an architectural design company, to begin the planning portion of the project.

“This is the time that we look at where we are and where it is that we need to go based upon our student numbers, the projections that we’ve been working through over the course of the past two and a half years, and now we’re working towards that concept,” Perry said. “So by the end of the year, we’re going to have a really great concept that we’re able to present to our community and then we’re looking at bids as early as May or June to begin that process going into year two.”

Perry said the district is working to consider all possible factors, ranging from projected student enrollment to safety concerns.

“Every meeting we have with administration when we’re talking about curriculum development, when we’re talking about safety, when we’re talking about policies, it’s going to require us to consider some updates to all of our spaces,” Perry said.

Strong start to the school year

Several administration members told the board they feel optimistic about the way the school year has begun.

Matthew Muller, the district’s director of safety and communications, said representatives from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office visited both the middle and high schools to provide students with information about the Safe2Say Something program.

The program is intended to help students understand the signs that people may display if they may present a threat, either to themselves or to others, according to the program website. Muller said that among providing other information, the presentation helped students learn how to utilize the program’s anonymous tip line.

Several administration members, including building principals and Stephanie Corbin, the director of special education and student services, said the district’s new CHARGE program has also been a success.

CHARGE stands for “committed, honest, adaptable, respectful, generous and engaged,” according to the district’s Facebook page, which describes it as a “positive behavior support system.”

The program is intended to incentivize good behavior by allowing students to earn tokens they may exchange for rewards.

Autumn Zaminski, principal of Conewago Township Elementary School, said CHARGE has been a hit with staff and students alike. The board was shown examples of the program’s tokens.

“The kids are just really, really excited and it’s going really well,” Zaminksi said. “It’s amazing how you can hold a token and they are just excited. We just wanted you to be able to see those and see how they’re exchanging (them.)”

Christopher Bowman, principal of New Oxford High School, said the high school decided to provide students with a presentation from Rachel’s Challenge.

Named after Rachel Scott, the first student to die in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, Rachel’s Challenge is an organization that works to help minimize school violence and bullying. Bowman said the program included training for the school’s FOR (Friends of Rachel) Club.

“Our FOR Club in existence for, I think, the last 6 years since the last time we had Rachel’s Challenge in the building, which is a feat in and of itself,” Bowman said. “I know the trainer acknowledged that. It was very exciting to know that that club is still in existence.”

Bowman said about 100 new students took part in the training.

“I’m happy to report that the trainer reported to us that this was probably, to date, his favorite high school to come and work with and present to, and could not be more excited about the ideas that were generated by our students during that training,” Bowman said.

Perry said that despite facing challenges, staff and administration have ensured a smooth start to the school year.

“To see how everybody jumps in, helps out, steps outside of their role to offer support and help is just unmatched,” Perry said. “I want to thank the administrative team, our support staff, our administrative supports, our maintenance staff. It has just been a marvel, and I really shouldn’t be surprised, but I never want us to take it for granted because it really is special.”

Recognition

During the time for honors and recognition, the board noted the achievements of a handful of students.

Two students, Idriz Ahmetovic and Israel Felipe, were named as two of five nominees for the Times Area Player of the Week.

Felipe was ultimately named Player of the Week.

Three students were also noted for being accepted to colleges. One student received $84,000 in scholarship offers.

Other business

A handful of current policies were updated while three new ones, all pertaining to school security, were approved.

Policy 255, “Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care,” was retired since it was made unnecessary when the contents were included in an updated policy.

Perry said the board is beginning a four-year policy review cycle. Administrative members are reviewing and updating the policies and receiving input from the district’s legal counsel before the board finalizes any changes.

The board also approved a list of substitute teachers and substitute support staff, as well as a long list of volunteers for the 2023-24 school year.

During the time for public comment, one individual asked how the schools spent Constitution Day on Sept. 17.

The board will hold a study session at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2 and a board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9.

Both meetings will be held in the district office. Board meetings are also typically livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.

The board held an executive session before the open meeting.

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Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist. She was a staff newspaper reporter for five years before becoming a freelancer in 2017. She has written on crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.

You can visit her website at ImariJournal.com.

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