RIDGWAY–The Ridgway Area School District (RASD) governing board met on Tuesday evening for the March meeting. The agenda included Students of the Month, many reports from staff and intergovernmental agencies, as well as the Nutrition Group, which provides Cafeteria Services to the District.
The Ridgway Area Students of the month are Kindergarteners Kinslee MacDonald and Mason Cope, Sixth-Grader Makayla Dwight, and Junior Erik Panebianco.
The Nutrition Group, represented by managers Jodee Raybuck and Allison Henry, which provides nutritional services across the RASD, gave a presentation to the Governing Board about the operating budget being in the positive after a severe deficit last year. Thanks to the Federal Government for providing full reimbursement for all meals, there is now an over $100,000 surplus in the Cafeteria Account. The Nutrition Group said they appreciated RASD’s understanding in light of food supply chain challenges they continue to face. Staffing and labor shortages, rising costs of material and transportation, and distribution hiccups are just a few of the ongoing disruptions affecting the foodservice industry. As a result, menu options often change on short notice. But they assured the board that there is no shortage of food. The Governing Board approved the contract renewal for the Nutrition Group, with several of the students of the month speaking to their favorite foods on the weekly menu.
The Intermediate Unit 9 Report (IU9) was accepted with no changes or significant announcements. In general, the report outlined the reappointment of staff to committees for the new year, with some basic housekeeping issues regarding budgets and appropriations.
Principal Mrs. Pam Yeager of the FSG Elementary presented her report on the school to the board. Safety drills continue to be run monthly at the elementary school. In addition to the monthly fire drills throughout the year, and an announced lockdown drill was held in February with staff and students. Classroom check-ins were held by Mrs. Yeager immediately after. These drills teach young students how to react and behave during emergencies, and they also allow FSG to make any needed adjustments and address any concerns. The elementary staff has begun meeting with reading curriculum companies to review student and teacher materials. In addition to information from e-Reports, an independent nonprofit that publishes free reviews of K-12 instructional materials, research-based rubrics will be utilized to comprehensively analyze the curriculums prior to making a final recommendation. Mrs. Yeager and Mrs. Daghir, school counselor, visit all classrooms to address being an ELKER and areas of need with the student body. Topics include being kind to one another as well as how to treat and take care of one another. FSG Elementary hosted Dr. Seuss week the week of February 28, where dress theme days were provided for the staff and students. Additional literacy activities were integrated throughout the classrooms as well. Mrs. Raubenstrauch organized a Bee Program for all students to participate in during the month of March. The Mangaroo family from Emporium brings in supplies from their farm to educate the students on bees and their importance to the ecosystem.
Mrs. Noel Petrosky, Principal of the Middle and High Schools, gave her report to the board indicating the smooth operation of the school over the past month.
Senior Julie Peterson, the Student Representative on the board, also gave a brief report from the perspective of those who attend the schools each day. She reported a successful basketball season, students participating in debate and science fairs, and the submission of Senior Projects being completed in the past month.
Supertiendant Heather McMahon-Vargas gave her report to the board. A separate article in the Ridgway Record will be forthcoming regarding the performance of students district-wide in the state’s standardized testing assessment. Budget discussions and analytics have continued to be a significant focus, with departments requesting changes in their budgets in response to updated needs. Technology, student services, staffing requirements, buildings, and grounds are all requesting increases to their budgets or the reallocation of funds from one part of their program to another for the 22-23 school year. The RASD’s Comprehensive Planning Committee has been meeting since
October 2021 and has undertaken several activities, including a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to identify the District’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The committee reflected on the information from the SWOT analysis and a review of data in order to identify core values across all stakeholder groups. The committee then used the broad list of core values to identify priority “common core values”: communication, respect,
collaboration-participation, and leadership. The 22-23 Calendar will be presented for the 1st reading in March at the meeting and tentatively was approved by the board. Mrs. Heindl’s request to move Mrs. Cowan to the full-time OSS Admin Assistant without a replacement for the para vacancy. Mrs. Heindl is working on strategies to temporarily cover priority areas. This includes school-to-work students to fill the building para sub position that has been vacant since the beginning of the year. Mrs. Sidelinger is also working on logistics for this situation with ESS – Source for Teachers. Two people have reached out about this position, with two resumes submitted, but no applications have been received since it has been reposted.
The RASD Governing Board approved a Seneca IU9 Resolution to utilize funding received from the group to programs approved by IU9 and the RASD Governing Board.
As part of the Pennsylvania Departement of Education and the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommendations, the RASD Governing Board approved implementing a Naloxone (NARCAN) plan at each of the schools. The School nurse or other trained staff members will be responsible for the administration of NARCAN if a suspected overdose of an opioid medication or illegal drug is suspected. NARCAN would have very few side effects even if it were improperly administrated to someone not undergoing an overdose. With the increasing use and abuse of illegal drugs, especially Fentanyl, it was felt by the board that this program will hopefully never be used but could be lifesaving.
The next Governing Board meeting will take place on April 5 in a work session and on April 12 in a full board meeting both at the FSG Elementary School Cafeteria beginning at 6:30 pm. The public is welcome to attend.