2009-03-26 / Local & State

Southern Fulton School District To Get Automated Calling System

Board approves proposal for obtaining Alert Now notification system
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

A discussion on the use of automated calling systems by other school districts for incidents ranging from inclement weather closings to reminders on report card day ended in a unanimous decision by members of the Southern Fulton School Board last week to try a system from Alert Now for free until the conclusion of the current school year.

The board also agreed on the 8-0 roll-call vote last Tuesday to make provisions while preparing the 2009-10 budget to set aside between $1,800 and $2,000 for the continued use of the system next year. The actual contracted cost for the life of the contract is $2.25 per student. Board member Richard Mosemann was unable to attend the monthly meeting.

In bringing information on the Alert Now notification system to the board, Superintendent Ralph Scott reported the system has the capability of making 6,000 telephone calls within a one-minute time frame. Price had been an issue in recent years, according to Scott, and kept him from bringing the matter to the board. However, with package prices and benefits being what they are today, Scott continued forward touting the benefits of the system.

Scott added having recorded messages left with parents and guardians regarding absences could possibly result in a reduction in truancy. Furthermore, topics related to inclement weather and nonemergencies such as upcoming events, open houses, reminders on report cards and community surveys are all possibilities to be explored through the automated system.

Student and parent information can be obtained and entered into the system through the existing power school program, and contact numbers cannot be, in turn, sold or passed onto other companies.

Scott noted staff and board members are contacted at no additional cost via the automated system, which is password protected.

In other finance-related issues, the board and administration heard from Charles Frame of Boyer & Ritter CPAs on the 2007- 08 audit report. The firm provided the district with a "clean opinion" based on its findings, which is also the best opinion that can be rendered.

For internal control purposes, Frame did discuss several areas that are "deficient" due to the small size of the district. Frame said as with other districts the same size as Southern Fulton, an individual is not readily available to prepare financial statements. He again touched on the lack of segregation of duties resulting from only two people working in the district's business office. An area noted by Frame but already being addressed by the administration includes the checking of bank statements.

As suggested by board member Kenny Wuertenberg, the board will be provided with a list of the issues at hand and how they are being resolved to prepare for future audits.

Approval was granted for the tax exoneration lists for the current 2008-09 school year as presented by business manager Debbie Schetrompf. Schetrompf was also given permission to reinvest the district's PLGIT certificates of deposit that have been modified due to acquisition by another financial institution. Schetrompf 's reinvestments are subject to public reporting at the following board meeting.

Board member Danny Crouse touched upon the budget preparations for the upcoming school year and reminded the administration and his fellow board members a total of $700,000 went unspent after taxes were raised one-half mill. Crouse suggested in light of today's economic uncertainty that the future budget include a reduction of one-half mill that would give back $20 to $22 to an average household.

Patrick Bard stated he would rather raise the budget another one-half mill and head off any big tax hikes later down the road. Crouse, in turn, questioned what would happen if 30 percent of district residents were unable to pay their taxes. Fellow board member Tim Mellott responded that nine times out of 10, it isn't the one-half mill that keeps people from paying their taxes.

Crouse concluded the school board should help the taxpayers in any way that it can. Later in the meeting, Crouse also voted against going into executive session for personnel and litigation matters if the topic of a raise for the superintendent and elementary principal was going to be discussed. Crouse said the issue should be discussed publicly.

Under the category of personnel, the board accepted letters of resignation from junior high softball coach Stacy Smith and Heather Hollenshead, junior varsity volleyball coach. Smith was later approved to serve in the capacity of volunteer varsity softball coach along with fellow volunteers Craig Elbin and Danny White. Ryan Ickes was authorized as a volunteer assistant junior high softball coach as well as an assistant varsity soccer coach.

Meanwhile, Melissa Mackel was appointed to the position of junior high softball coach, and Melissa Barton will serve as her assistant coach. Mark Lund and Heather Hollenshead were approved, respectively, as second and third assistant track coaches.

Jamie Shipley received a nod of approval as a long-term substitute retroactive to March 9 in the absence of Rebecca Mosemann, who is on leave through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993. Shipley will receive a daily rate of $110 in accordance with her duties.

Lisa Truax was granted an unpaid leave of absence on an intermittent basis for the 2008-09 school year in accordance with FMLA.

Jolinda Harkless was added to the substitute teacher list, and Sandra Wills was placed on the substitute secretary and aide lists. The motion regarding Harkless and Wills was approved pending the completion of submission of necessary paperwork.

Pending the completion of paperwork, Scott Mosemann will serve as a volunteer FFA advisor.

Warfordsburg Area Youth Soccer will begin using playing fields available at the high school April 1 through May 31 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Fulton County Center for Families was granted permission to utilize the outside and restroom areas at the elementary facility on May 16 for the purpose of holding a World Fair between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. A rain date of May 23 was established for the event for children up to five years of age.

On April 17, the Needmore Volunteer Fire Co. will hold a donkey basketball game in the elementary gymnasium from p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

A girls basketball camp will be conducted in the elementary gym by the Southern Fulton girls basketball team between July and July 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Retroactive approval was granted for the cheerleading squad to attend the EDA Nationals in Williamsburg, Va., on March 13 through March 15. Cheerleaders Kara Anderson, Rachel Norris, Amber Boden and Ashley Wigfield were recognized as "All-Americans" during the competition and were asked to cheer at the 2010 Pro-Bowl for their efforts.

The National Honor Society will be travelling to the Carnegie Science Center located in Pittsburgh on April 17 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In addition, librarian Angela Adams is slated to attend the Multiple Cultures, Multiple Voices Conference on June 14-16 in Harrisburg. Elementary Principal Kendra Trail will attend the PASA Aspiring Leadership Conference, also in Harrisburg, on March 25 and 26.

The 2009-10 tentative school calendar was approved as presented to the board.

The administration is scheduled to begin coordinating the district's participation in the Mobile Dentistry Program for the upcoming school year. School nurse Sandy Crouse was touted as being responsible for bringing the "very successful" program to Southern Fulton.

On the topic of transportation, contractor Glenn Ward questioned why a trio of buses were now transporting high school students to the elementary after school for practices and activities. Ward noted only one bus had been utilized previously to haul the students. Ward, who was instructed to speak with high school Principal Meredith Hendershot, cited various safety reasons during the public comment portion of the March 17 meeting.

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