Homer-Center school district leaders will take up an array of technology improvements needed because of the increased use of online services for virtual learning.
“This would help us get our computer systems up to speed,” District Superintendent Curt Whitesel said. “Now that we’re doing a lot of synchronous and asynchronous (online) learning, this will help to modernize what we’re doing.”
The school board on Thursday approved a last-minute addition to the agenda, a proposal to spend as much as $120,000 on upgrades and said the district could apply discounts and grant funding to cover most of the cost.
Ironically, the board’s online business meeting was disrupted during the technology discussion by a brief power failure in the Homer City area that disconnected many board members and spectators from the Zoom conference.
District officials said the investment in technology would be defrayed by as much as 80 percent through erate program support and possibly with funds from the latest round of COVID-19 aid from the federal government.
In other business, the board:
• Learned from board member Gerald Bertig in a report of the Buildings & Grounds Committee that the panel is considering possible improvements to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in the schools.
“HVAC needs seem to be the big new push at the federal level … and we may have a lot of funding pushed out to make sure schools have the safest environment in terms of air quality,” he said. He suggested that the district have a professional assessment of its systems.
“I wouldn’t expect there to be a whole lot with our buildings being newer and in good shape, but there always are new technologies coming out and there could be ways we could have even cleaner air.”
• Learned from board member Michael Bertig, one of the district’s delegates to the Homer-Center Recreation and Parks program, that Janet Arone has been hired as the Memorial Park swimming pool manager for the summer. He said the recreation program has accepted nine applications from people for life guard jobs at the pool; pool passes will go on sale in April.
Consideration of a water heating system has been put on hold, according to board member Michael Schmidt, in part because of expected limits on the number of pool users because of the pandemic and for a comparison of electricity, natural gas or solar power as heating sources. Schmidt also told the board that the recreation program would tap the high school web design and marketing classes for students to redesign the rec department’s website and prepare informational brochures to promote the pool and other area recreational activities.
• Hired Carrie Grudzien as a long-term substitute teacher for the remainder of the school year at a rate of $120 a day.
• Granted family medical leave for instructional aide Heather Klingensmith from March 15 through 24.
• Hired Chelsea Palmer as the assistant girls’ track coach for the spring season at a supplemental salary of $2,495.71
• Hired Cullan Evans as a cafeteria worker at four hours a day, nine months a year, at $10.65 an hour retroactive to March 8.
• Renewed the district’s package of insurance policies for an annual premium of $62,533.
• Appointed Michael Bertig, the Homer-Center board president, to represent the district on the Armstrong-Indiana Intermediate Unit No. 28 board of directors for three years beginning July 1.
• Approved special education coordinator Beth Genchur to attend the virtual PAFPC annual conference May 4 and 5 at a cost of $125.
• Scheduled a summer program for incoming kindergarten students. “ABCs & Me” would be held on nine days over three weeks.
• Approved an agreement with Eastern Elevator Service & Sales Company for testing the high school elevator at a cost of $944.
• Approved a contract with Earthcraft Lawn Care to maintain the high school track at $3,615, Memorial Field at $4,565 and the high school front lawn at $620.
• Approved a contract with Consolidated Communications for telephone service for 12 months.
• Renewed a contract with Frontline Education Absence & Substitution Management for use of the software program for one year beginning July 1 at a cost of $5,763.91.
• Approved a three-year contract with Edinsight beginning July 1 at fees of $17,489.82 the first year, $18,014.52 for the second year and $18,554.95 the final year.
• Approved a subscription and support plan with Weidenhammer Purchase Card (“P-Card”) at a base fee of $532 plus $2,400 for implementation and training.
• Approved a five-year lease with Quadrient Leasing USA for a postage meter in the administrative office at $85.81 a month, a total of $5,148.60 for 60 months.
• Approved teacher Christine Yurky and students to attend the virtual Senior High Envirothon on either April 19 or 23 at no cost to the district.
• Approved the placement of an elementary school student to the New Story alternative school for 45 days retroactive to March 9.
• Approved Lisa Weaver to attend two and one-half days of asynchronous training for Google Certified Education Level I Bootcamp at a cost to the district of $50 plus a substitute teacher.
• Approved teachers Lisa Adams, Cindy Scott and Steven Hall and members of student council and the interact club to deliver Easter dinners to local families on April 1. The district will pay for two substitute teachers for the day.
• Approved the use of the football practice field for the youth football camp from June 21 to 24 by coach Greg Page and the Homer-Center Football Parents Association. The district will waive all fees.
• Approved the use of Memorial Field for “Under the Lights” football drills by Page and the football team on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from June 16 to Aug. 4 and for a 7-on-7 competition on Saturday, July 24. The district will waive all fees.
• Authorized the use of rooms in the elementary and high schools by ARIN IU No. 28 and the Homer-Center Special Education program for ESY services from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays through Thursdays from July 6 to Aug. 5. The board waived the fees.