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Elk Lake Parents Voice Sports Concerns

More than a dozen parents and students attended Tuesday night's meeting of the Elk Lake School Board, so President Eric Emmerich pushed visitors' time to the front of the agenda. One woman accused the board of slighting the girl's sports program, particularly field hockey.

Their coach tendered her resignation, having received a job offer elsewhere, and the parent wanted to know who would be filling that coaching job. "They should be working already," she said, indicating that other schools had already begun practicing, and she wanted the school to get a "good person for the girls." She said that board members don't attend the games, which was refuted by one member who said he had been to games.

Administration responded that with more than 50 positions to fill in sports activities, it is sometimes hard to get enough interested people. Board member Arden Tewksbury, who has the perspective of over 30 years on the board, said, "the school has in no way downplayed girls' sports."

Another visitor wanted to know if the school was going to require school uniforms. Superintendent William Bush said that they have had some discussion regarding uniforms, but no recommendation has been made to the board along those lines. Board member Jack Sible asked a student at the meeting if she was in favor of uniforms, which received a negative reply.

High school principal Ken Cuomo said they have spoken about school uniforms with the students and also about the dress code. He has told the students that if they don't want a dress code, they should clean up their act and not push the dress code to the limits.

"Is the dress code just for students, or for teachers, too?" asked one mother.

Cuomo said, "Yes, it would be true for teachers, but it is a contractual issue also." He then added, "there are some differences."

There are other issues, too, he said, but changes have been made. Bush said that the dress code takes time away administratively, so he would be in favor of uniforms. However, he will get input from all before a decision is made.

A dress code could establish a level playing field and not have some students wearing very expensive clothes. Cuomo would want to study the idea for a year and enact a code in May, in time for parents to buy uniforms rather than other clothes for the following school year.

The administration spends "so much time (on enforcing the dress code) that could be better spent."

Enforcement brought up the question of whether the teachers can wear flip-flops when the students aren't allowed to do the same. One board member had on flip-flops during the meeting.

Emmerich noted that the board changed the dress code, but the big issue is enforcement and all the borderline cases. A male parent asked, "Don't you think with uniforms all will push the limits?" He told the school they do a good job, but should "fine tune" the code, "but some kids you aren't going to get in line."

Appointments were made to several coaching positions immediately after the visitors' discussion time, so the parents would know who was appointed to the vacancies and not have to stay for the full meeting to know the outcome.

Professional personnel appointments were also made, filling all but one position in time for the start of school. Lisa Staros will be the new elementary/secondary speech person, Rita Spila will take the secondary reading/English job, Matt Nebzydoski in secondary social studies, Laura Griffith secondary business education, Gloria Williams will move from fourth to fifth grade, Dan Walker from third to fourth, Melanie Transue will hold the secondary English position, Diane Ives will fill the half day in-school suspension position and Debra Tyler will take on the special education associate position.

In the cafeteria, Penny Stockholm will add to her duties as baker, and Barbara Lantz will be a new permanent part-time worker. Sue Heed was re-appointed as the substitute caller, over 100 people were approved for the substitute list, and several teachers were given a permanent teaching contract (tenure) including Sandra Summers whose resignation had been accepted at the very beginning of the meeting. Tenure goes with the teacher from school to school, and Summers had met the tenure requirements before she resigned.

Forty-two thousand five hundred dollars will be spent on an upgrade to the aeration system for the lagoon (septic system). Sludge has been removed this summer, and with the lagoon empty for the first time since 1977, the piping system was revamped. Higher horsepower motors should improve the aeration for the lagoon.

The attendance policy was revised to include the timeliness of providing excuses. If an excuse is not in the office within three days of an absence, it will be recorded as an un-excused absence. Doctor's excuses will need a time and date so that students with early/late appointments don't take the whole day off. Reworking of some of the language of the policy will be done to clarify the definition and timing for establishing half day absences versus tardy arrival, at the insistence of board member Jean Swire.

The milk machine was in attendance at the meeting. It has been retrofitted with wheels, so that it can be available during lunch and after school, then be wheeled back into a secure place. Adding a way to provide nutritional snacks for students going on away sports trips, where they sometimes leave around 2 p.m. and don't return until 9 or 10, was discussed and will be considered for future meetings.

During the Career & Technology Center meeting, Director Alice Davis noted that they had 37 calls and 23 follow-ups as a result of the ad that was placed at a local radio station. The house project for the building trades classes is underway, with the driveway completed.

Concrete is needed for the garage and basement floor, then the students should be on the site to begin work about two weeks after school begins.

Two one-year, full-time cosmetology teachers were hired: Susan Zeyher and Susan Kiehart.

The next meeting for both boards will be on Monday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.

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