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School board OKs modified schedule

January 15, 2009|By CHRIS CARTER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - While Greencastle-Antrim High School juniors are laboring through Pennsylvania System of School Assessment testing this spring, their peers will have the option of sleeping in, catching a late breakfast or simply lounging until their morning bell rings.

School administrators have formed a system that will allow freshmen, sophomores and seniors to arrive at school at 9:35 a.m. on testing days to cause the least disruption of regularly scheduled classes.

Meanwhile, Greencastle juniors must show up at normal time to take the assessment, beginning with the math and reading tests on March 18-19 and 24-25. The school will operate on a two-hour delay schedule to offset the missed time.

High school principal Ed Rife outlined the new schedule Thursday night for school board members, who unanimously approved the agenda item.

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Students arriving at the later time must find their own transportation because bus transportation will remain on the same schedule and make the usual pickups. Students without transportation can still arrive at the normal time, and a study hall will be provided until classes officially begin.

When the assessments first began, all students arrived at the same time. Disruption occurred because juniors who were separated on one side of the building to take the tests would miss four days of classroom material and teachers suffered from diminished class sizes.

Last year, administrators put on four days of assemblies while juniors tested, but concerns emerged about finding content for such assemblies year after year, as well as students questioning the importance of attending the assemblies if the juniors didn't have to, according to Rife.

o Earlier at Thursday's board meeting - the first in more than a month - Arnie Jansen surprised fellow board members with five items to be added to the agenda.

First, he suggested that $100,000 in the budget be set aside to handle any possible shortfalls in teachers' pensions because of the struggling economy. Business manager Richard Lipella pointed out that more money would be needed for such a contingency and board members tabled the discussion for a February board meeting.

Board members approved his idea to have any school board documents posted on the district Web site one week before a meeting. But they shot down a travel freeze and a freeze on any nonteacher/aide positions until the 2009-10 budget was granted, citing that more information was needed before making such a decision. They are expected to revisit the issues in an upcoming meeting.

Jansen's final proposal - to reduce the 2009-10 budget by two mill rates because of higher revenue than projected - was tabled for a later meeting.

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