Pittston Area school board addresses departmentalizing, labeling of primary students

By Nick Wagner - nwagner@timesleader.com


    What’s next

    The next meeting of the Pittston Area School Board will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 18 in the high school library.

    YATESVILLE — Labeling and departmentalizing has become a concern in the Pittston Area School District at the second- and third-grade levels at the Pittston Area Primary Center, according to parents.

    Pittston Area School Board answered parents’ concerns regarding departmentalizing, and that labeling, Tuesday at the monthly board meeting.

    Over the past several months, Pittston Area has talked about implementing the departmentalizing style of learning in its Primary Center. While the style hasn’t been implemented yet, parent concerns have risen over the first month of school.

    “We talked about teachers being a little bit more subject specific,” Superintendent Kevin Booth said. “No teacher is teaching a subject that they haven’t taught previously.”

    Booth said most of the concerns stem from how students are being grouped. Currently, students are grouped according to academic levels in reading. He said this has been in place for many years.

    Board member Joe Kelly said the possible plan for Pittston Area is to start a “task force” to monitor the situation and see how the situation can be more streamlined.

    Booth gave one example on the departmentalizing situation. He said kindergarten through fourth-grade students have a specialized art teacher, but not for any other core subject such as math.

    Last year, fourth-grade students were departmentalized. According to Booth, the “fourth-grade teachers love it” thus far. He said scores are above state average in some areas, but are lower in others.

    Booth admitted that himself, along with other administrators at Pittston Area, should be communicating with parents on a more frequent basis with the situation.

    Also at the meeting on Tuesday, the board approved Financial Solutions LLC to advertise for refunding opportunities regarding bonds from 2012. The school district issued its General Obligation Bonds in January of 2012 in the par amount, or face value, of $5,890,000 to refund the 2006 bonds and to pay the costs of issuing the 2012 bonds.

    The 2012 bond is scheduled to amortize, or reduce/extinguish, on July 15 of each year from 2017 through 2026. The remaining principal of the bonds is $4,490,000, with an interest rate of 2.932 percent. With this approval, the school district could price a refund and close a refunding issue by December of 2016.

    The approval will refund the 2012 bonds and pay the costs of issuing the 2016 bonds. By doing this, the school district will be locked into a lower, fixed rate and save an estimated $120,000. Doing this will amortize through 2026 for the 2016 bonds, and match the amortization of the 2012 bonds. The actually savings realized by the school district will not be known until the 2016 bonds are actually priced.

    Financial Solutions will update the board at the next meeting.

    By Nick Wagner


    What’s next

    The next meeting of the Pittston Area School Board will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 18 in the high school library.

    Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick

    Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick

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