Six staff members for the Dunlap school district were recognized during the monthly board of education meeting on Feb. 9.

Six staff members for the Dunlap school district were recognized during the monthly board of education meeting on Feb. 9.


The recognitions were for various reasons, from grants given to their programs to students excelling to even being a regular blood donor at blood drives held at the high school.


“We’ve been doing it on occasion as they pop up real time,” Superintendent Dr. Jay Marino said. “We lately had a cluster of teachers we wanted to recognize. That’s a new practice that we’re starting to do at least twice a year, to recognize those teachers that have an outstanding achievement.”


Two teachers, DeAnna Begner  and Toni Redlingshafer, were recognized for receiving grants. Begner, from Ridgeview Elementary School, received a Speer Grant worth $400 to purchase science materials for her fifth-grade class, while Redlingshafer, from Dunlap Valley Middle School, received both a $700 Speer Grant and a $1,000 grant from the PNC First Grant Program. Both grants will be used for various activities that go on during the “Citizens of the World” program happening in March.


Marino was not sure exactly how many grants were received by the district yearly.


“We regularly participate in grant programs and we regularly have recipients,” he said. “... Our teachers do a good job in participating in grant programs and have been fairly successful in being awarded.”


From Dunlap High School, Jason Shea, Jill Potts and Jen Reece were all recognized from the music program for having 18 students named all-state musicians at the IMEA All-State Conference in January. Also recognized from the high school was librarian Tom Sullivan, who is getting ready to donate blood at the yearly blood drive at the high school. Since the drive started in 1990, Sullivan has donated at every one.


The meeting, which was standing room only, started with Marino announcing that the survey regarding the proposed schedule change for next year had closed that evening, and had more than 700 open-ended comments for the committee to read over. After looking at the comments, the results will be posted to the districts blog for the community to see.


After announcing the closure of the survey, Eric Topel, a student at Dunlap High School, brought a petition before the board that had more than 100 signatures from students and parents against the schedule change.


Topel said during his presentation to the board that the students feared arts and humanities programs would be cut from schedules first with the proposed change.


Marino said that the main problem most of the signers had was the change to zero hour.


“The gist is that kids like the zero hour, which is interesting because in the proposal we gave everybody zero hour,” he said. “Basically, we proposed to start the day when zero hour starts now. The concern is that some kids like to take eight classes when we only offer a typical seven-hour day. So, the kids that provided input on that were basically saying we can’t take an eighth hour. But, I’ll tell you that about 3 percent of our student population takes an eighth period, so it’s a small group of kids we’re talking about.”


Zero hour allows kids to take an extra elective class, such as band, chorus, etc., or take a class if a scheduling conflict occurs between two classes a student wanted to take.


“For example, let’s say I want to take A.P. chemistry first hour, and I also want to take A.P. physics,” Marino said. “If both classes are only offered first hour, I have to make a choice. But, if in zero hour they can get one of those courses, than first hour, even though there’s a conflict, they’ve already taken one of the classes. It allows them to take a few more classes where there may be a scheduling conflict.”


Also discussed during the public input session was the possibility of a wrestling program.


A parent that recently moved to the district wanted to help bring a program in, but the board said that interest had been a problem in the past.
However, student interest will be gauged again this spring to consider the possibility of starting a program.


In other news, the support services department of the district updated the board on how their monthly strategic planning meetings had been going to make mission statements and goals for the staff. The groups that gave an update included the cafeteria, building/grounds, technology and transportation staffs.


“We are on a transformation journey, to take a high performing district to the next level,” Marino said. “When you take and focus on half of your employees doing that, our teaching staff is about half. We have a whole other half of our organization that are in support services. Our strategy is to get every teacher, administrator, student and support staff member connected to our strategic planning. So, this is part of our strategic plan of moving forward.”


He added that he hopes to have teams established by the end of the year, which the board will meet with regularly and continue to support.


The only item approved at the meeting was an unpaid leave of absence for a third-grade teacher. During the absence, the school will bring in a long-term substitute.


The board’s next meeting will be a special meeting regarding personnel on Feb. 23.