Shawn Evans was sworn in as Sto-Rox school district’s newest board member on Aug. 11.
-BACK TO SCHOOL-
By Elizabeth Perry
Teachers were hired, a new board member was sworn in and a teacher’s contract was ratified at the Sto-Rox school board’s eventful Aug. 11 meeting.
New arrival and dismissal times were also approved, along with several after-school programs.
The Sto-Rox Teacher Union ratified a one-year contract extension after working the previous year without. School directors unanimously voted in favor of the contract.
The teachers union ratified the agreement July 31, avoiding a strike. Negotiations on a successive agreement will begin in early January 2023, according to a press release from the district. Teachers received a 4% raise, Dan Rinkus, communication specialist for the district, said.
Last year’s raise was $1,500 for all teachers, which counts as a bonus, Rinkus said. The total increase among teachers was $202,188 based on the teacher count at the end of the year, but that number will change with hirings, Rinkus said. The current school year is based on one step on the old salary schedule, with an average increase of $2,324 per step.
Arrival and dismissal times were changed as a caveat of the district’s economic recovery plan. The district had been in financial distress for a number of years, which caused the commonwealth to intervene and set up an economic recovery plan.
The professional learning community for teachers needed to be accommodated, necessitating the changes according to Superintendent Megan Van Fossen.
A professional learning community is when teachers collaborate and do research to continue their own professional learning.
From now on the hours will be:
High School: 7:10 a.m. to 1:50 p.m.
Upper Elementary: 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Primary Center: 9 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.
New board appointee Shawn Evans was sworn in by Magistrate Bruce Boni. Evans had been appointed by a judge after the board failed to reach a consensus about adding a new member. He's a 40-year-old McKees Rocks native who went to Sto-Rox schools from grades K-7, Rinkus said. His mother, Lori Simms, was a teacher and principal in the district.
The board approved the hiring of the following people: Kirstan Fielder, high school paraprofessional; Josh Kemp, high school paraprofessional; Stefanie Galeoti, school nurse; Alexandra Coyle, K-3 life skills; Alyssa Iannou, K-3 learning support; Amber Rogers, K-6 art; Presley Carpenter, 7-12 life skills; Teresa Eggleston, general worker.
Substitute teachers – Jennifer Ireland, Grover Smith, Erin Connor, Dominic Weissner and Kevin Woods.
Coaches – Kevin Woods, girls volleyball; Hope Shreiber, girls basketball; Stefon Struthers, assistant football; Myles Catlin, assistant football.
After-school – The board approved a weekly after-school computer science, STEM coding lab for students in grades four to six at the upper elementary and to students in grades seven to nine at the junior high school. The cost will be paid through the 7% set aside funds; COVID-19 relief funding through the federal government.
YouthPlaces was approved to provide after-school programming at the high school. The program will run nine months beginning Sept. 5 and will involve gaming, coding, social and emotional development opportunities for students.
The program is funded through the Hillman and Eden Hall foundations.
The district is planning a back-to-school event following a football scrimmage, with a food truck, community groups and games on Aug. 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m at the high school.
The game is scheduled for 10 a.m and the band is also slated to play. Rinkus said there would also be school enrollment. Aug. 24 is the first day of school.
Security will be provided, according to Director Ken Hohman.