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FASD discusses snow days; thanks its board members

The Fairfield Area school board discussed the need to designate some vacation days as makeup days during the board’s meeting on Monday evening.

Dr. Larry Redding, interim superintendent for the district, said no makeup days were listed when the calendar was developed.

In the event of an expected closure, such as anticipated weather events, the district can use Flexible Instruction Days. Unexpected closures do not qualify for Flexible Instruction Days and a traditional makeup day would be needed.

Without makeup days built into the calendar, some vacation days must be designated as makeup days and potentially sacrificed in the event of an unexpected closure.

“The standard Friday before Memorial Day, the Thursday before Easter, the Monday after Easter– something has to be approved by the board because you approved this calendar to tell the parents and the staff members what order we’re doing to do for those unanticipated (closures),” Redding said.

Redding said the board will need to designate the makeup days during its December or January meetings. He also said the district will need to complete a final draft of the 2022-23 school calendar by February.

Redding said he hopes to smooth the eventual transition between him and Thomas Haupt, the anticipated new superintendent. According to Redding, Haupt plans to visit the district on Friday, Dec. 10.

School leaders reported that there was a strong turnout for the recent parent-teacher conferences, reporting that many parents used Zoom. They discussed keeping it as an option post-pandemic.

Wrestling

The board tabled a request from Candace Ferguson-Miller and Fairfield Youth Wrestling asking for the use of the wrestling room and high school gym on Sundays from Jan. 9 through April 3.

“Fairfield Youth Wrestling is trying to change leagues and need to request Sunday usage in the event that they host tournaments,” a note in the agenda stated. “Currently, they do not have a schedule because they have not officially joined the new league, however, the new league requires tournaments be held on Sundays.”

Board member Jack Liller voiced concerns about the district’s ability to get a custodian to come in on Sunday to ensure the facilities are ready for classes on Monday.

Redding said there was also confusion about board policy on the issue. In Board Docs, policy 707 was approved by the board in 2019, he said, but anyone looking at the district’s web page would see policy 6340. That policy is no longer used but administrative procedures follow it.

Redding said he wants to ensure all of the policies are kept in Board Docs and are easy to reference.

Policy 707 has a fee schedule in place for the use of the facilities, with either fees paid or donations made.

The board discussed which programs should be considered educational and district-related exempt from fees, and how fees can help offset costs for electricity and wear and tear on I facilities.

The board members also discussed the need for groups using the facilities to have a responsible person listed.

Looking beyond just wrestling to other groups’ use of the facilities, the board opted to table the discussion until its next meeting. Board members wanted time to review the board policy and write a fee schedule for the different facilities to have uniform expectations in place.

Supplemental contracts

The board approved five supplemental contracts for this school year per the collective bargaining agreement, but questioned two other memos of understanding presented for two additional positions.

The board voted 4-2 to reject a request to sign a memo of understanding related to a high school backstage manager position. Liller said he preferred to hire for the position on an as-needed basis rather than committing to pay for it in years it might be unnecessary.

They tabled the request to approve a memo of understanding for a temporary elementary interventionist.

After some discussion, Redding said he will update the document and return it to the board for review for its next meeting.

Due to Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement that the mask mandate for schools may be lifted on Jan. 17, Liller asked that the board receive information about updated quarantine recommendations.

Liller said the board has about two months to make decisions regarding the mask mandate and communicate its decisions to families before the statewide mandate is lifted.

Board recognition

Redding recognized several school board members for their service, giving a certificate to board member Travis Jones.

Board members David Millstein and Earl Shutt were not present but Redding said he would get their certificates to them.

Board President Marcy Van Metre was given a certificate of appreciation from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association for her 12 years on the board.

A reorganization meeting and the next regular public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6 in the district board room.

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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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