Mohawk applies for #cyber snow days

There will be snow.

And when it comes with icy roads, power outages, deep-freeze temperatures or other events which cancel classes due to inclement weather, the Mohawk Area School district will be ready.

The school board this week formally applied to the Pennsylvania Department of Education to schedule up to five flexible instructional days in the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.

Under the system, teachers will have created prepared lessons which students in grades 3 through 12 will access via school-issues Chromebooks and will have access to the internet. Under the plan, students will have up to 10 days to complete the course work and turn in the assignments.

Last month, district superintendent Michael Leitera and Dr. Lorree Houk, assistant to the superintendent, outlined the “snow days” plan which must be officially approved by the school board and formally submitted to the Department of Education. Board members acted on Tuesday and the plan was submitted on Wednesday.

At the August meeting, Leitera noted that the Mohawk district covers 107 square miles, “And sometimes it is not safe to have the students on the roads.”

The flexible instruction days will ensure that students do not miss school work due to weather-related circumstances which could result in the school year being extended at the end of the year.

The Public School Code requires schools to offer at least 180 days — 900 hours— of instruction for grades one to six and 990 hours for students of grades seven to 12.

The board also took formal action to approve the Mohawk Area School District police department.

In June, Leitera and the school board began efforts to create its own police department. The board then created a department with a two-year $146,000 grant obtained through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. In August, the board hired former Union Township police officer Joseph Caiazza to serve as chief of the department, which will provide security at the school buildings during the day, in the evenings and at sports events. Caiazza is the department’s only full-time employee. Eight part-time officers have been hired.

The board also:

•Renewed its contract with Dr. Thomas Patton to serve as the school dentist. His rate of $3 per exam, the same as last year.

•Renewed its contract with the Lawrence County Community Action Partnership to continue to serve lunches to Head Start program participants.

•Approved transportation routes for the 2019-20 school year and hired three additional transportation employees.

•Approved the agreement with the Reschini Group to assist with the employer reporting requirement under the Affordable Care Act at $6.25 per form.

•Authorized teacher Cameron Schirmer to accompany tight to 12 students to the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.

•Heard a presentation by eighth grade English teacher Amy Ford who obtained a $900 grant through Dannon’s Choice and is using the funds to create an “Empathy Through Literature” program. Students will read eight different books covering World War II and the Holocaust and discuss them.


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