Board adds more emergency closing days

Sparta Public Schools to have four extra days

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By Jennifer Jean Miller
— The Sparta Board of Education voted unanimously at the meeting on Monday, June 30, to increase the amount of emergency closing days built into the calendar.

The district, which previously had approved four emergency closing days, has now added four more.

During the 2013 to 2014 school year, the district was closed ten days for emergency reasons. The students also did not have a four-day weekend for Presidents’ Day, and only the day itself off. Spring break was also canceled in April to make up for lost class time.

By law, schools must be in session for 180 days each school year.

“A number of people wanted to build in more snow days,” said Dennis Tobin, the Sparta Superintendent of Schools.

The board voted to change the end date for the school year from June 19 to June 26.

Once the calendar was approved Tobin said, “It will be sent out by Genesis to our school community so they can plan appropriately."

In other business:
Tobin said he and Melissa Varley, the district’s curriculum director, would be discussing a survey to roll out regarding the possibility of school uniforms.

Tobin said if surveys were distributed, it would likely be in the next couple of months. If the implementation of a uniform policy takes effect, it would be unlikely to happen in the 2014-2015 school year, Tobin said.

The board approved resignations added in after their June 23 work session. Among them was the resignation of Diane Leiher, a special education teacher at the middle school. Leiher worked within the district for close to 26 years.

The other resignation was an addendum to the agenda, with Keith Gourlay, buildings and grounds supervisor, announcing his retirement effective Dec. 31. Gourlay commences his retirement the following day, after 29 years of working in the district.

The board also approved the acceptance of a variety of grants and donations.

Among them was a grant for STEM from the Sparta Education Foundation for $12,293.21, a grant for cameras from the Sparta Education Foundation for $3,351.92, scholarship funds from the PSTO for $1,000 to be divvied up among five recipients, $500 from the PSTO for the Audrey Kruze Memorial Scholarship, a $810 donation for the Helen Morgan School Music Field Trip transportation costs to Alpine and Mohawk Avenue Schools, $1,233 from the Sparta Music Boosters for marching band stipends, $1,000 from Sparta Friends and Neighbors for the Character Counts Program, from the Helen Morgan PTO for $1,000 for mulch for the school’s playground, from the Sparta Boys Baseball Booster Club for $1,500 to compensate Bryan Graham for his service as assistant to the high school baseball team over the past season, and from the Sparta Girls Lacrosse Booster Club for $2,500 to Sue Vnechak to compensate her for assistant coaching of the girls’ lacrosse team during the past season.

Members of the board of education praised the success of the graduation ceremony at the high school, all agreeing it was an interesting perspective to watch the ceremony from their vantage point on the field, where they all sat.

Members who assisted with Project Graduation also noted how impressed they were with the students who attended the event.

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