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Residents Petition School Bd. To Expand Sports Programs For Grade 9, Middle Schools


Specially Written for The Times

One hundred residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood have petitioned the district Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carol B. Choye to expand middle school and ninth grade interscholastic sports programs by this fall "to accommodate all those children who have the desire and ability to participate."

Board member Edward J. Saridaki, Jr., who also signed the petition, agreed to deliver the petition to the board according to a letter included with the 100 signatures, "because of problems some of us have experienced with taking a public stand on issues within the district."

Dr. Choye said she will "talk to staff about the issue when they return from vacation." The residents' letter said they were aware that the administration is considering expansion of some of the district athletic programs.

The petition claims that "with the increase in student enrollment, opportunities in interscholastic sports "have not expanded adequately. We recognize the need for and importance of a broad-based educational experience for the children. This experience should include opportunities for all children who wish to participate in co-curricular activities such as instrumental and vocal music, club activities and interscholastic athletics."

In other business, the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education approved the district's 1997-1998 Program of Study for elementary and middle schools last Thursday at its regular meeting. Earlier in the month, board members suggested changes to the state required annual publication.

Board Vice President Jessica D. Simpson cited a description of middle school reading skills in a draft of the Program of Study saying, "As a parent, this doesn't tell me what I want to know."

She asked to know specifically what students will be reading by questioning officials, "is it short stories, novels or what?"

While some suggestions from board members were heeded in this year's program, Dr. Choye recommended waiting until next year to make any major revisions to the Program of Study because of staff changes and time constraints.

On a separate matter, Dr. Choye told the board she would not endorse proposals to increase counseling services during school hours. She said she would be focusing on how time is spent in the classroom and how counseling services fit into the overall picture, emphasizing academics. The board did approve $123,500 for ongoing counseling services with Resolve Community Counseling Center, Inc., for the district this school year.

In other business, the board approved its yearly report on violence and vandalism in district schools. Damages for the 1996-1997 school year totaled $1,155 from graffiti, broken windows and desks and a garbage can fire in a girls' locker room. Violence was limited to student scuffles, according to board President Dr. Donald E. Sheldon.

In a separate matter, the board agreed to accept $179,107 from the federal government. The four-part grant includes funds for innovative educational programs, staff development in mathematics and science, attention to a safe and drug-free environment and disadvantaged students. A portion of the funds is shared with private schools in the area.

The board also agreed to approve $361,189 in transportation costs for 62 students last year in conjunction with the Union County Educational Services Commission. The board indicated the expense was a savings of $18,000 over last year. The bus routes are primarily to special education facilities.

On a separate matter, the board accepted the resignation of Terrill Middle School music teacher Charles Dettmar, who will become Director of the West Orange High School Band. Assistant Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School Football Coach and physical education teacher John Maggio also will resign to become Director of Athletics in Bound Brook, according to Dr. Choye.

According to district personnel reports, other high school football assistant coaches for this year will be Thomas Baylock, James Foy, Kyle Banghart, Richard McGriff and Erik Rosenmeier. Kimberly Gable will coach high school junior varsity cheerleading.

The board reported the hiring of two special education teachers for a new program at Coles Elementary School for preschool age children exhibiting signs of autism.

Patricia Boland was hired through the summer as a social studies and Language Arts Supervisor for the middle and high school departments.

District Assistant Superintendent for Business and Board Secretary Richard J. Marshall will retire by January but will continue part-time as a planning associate for six months at $500 a day, according to the personnel report.

The next board meeting will be Thursday, September 11, at 8 p.m.

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TheWestfield Leader.
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