Class action: Cocalico officials completing back-to-school checklists

By on August 19, 2015


Bus routes are planned, handbooks are ready, and Cocalico School District officials are busy hiring support staff to serve students in classrooms, nurse’s offices, and cafeterias.

At a meeting Monday night, the school board approved a long list of back-to-school items, making staff and policy changes for the 2015-16 school year.

Superintendent Dr. Bruce Sensenig said Tuesday that many of the policies were technical in nature. Some program names are simply changing to meet state guidelines, and local policies have been amended to incorporate recently approved state laws about background checks.

Most significantly, the board approved changes to the home education program that limit the district’s involvement in home schooling. Sensenig said educators of several dozen local home-schooled students no longer need to submit end-of-year portfolios and test results to the district. Instead, an independent evaluator will review all materials.

“If that evaluator says they’re meeting the program requirements, that’s pretty much it,” he added.

In all, the board approved changes to eight items in the district’s policy manual.

In other action, the board voted to fill two last-minute elementary teaching vacancies and agreed to add a new database to its list of hiring resources. The district has a total of 18 new teachers this year, only four of them first-year teachers just out of college. Most are transitioning from roles as long-term substitutes in Cocalico or moving over from other districts.

“We were able to attract quality and experience,” Sensenig said.

The teachers were completing orientation this week before schools starts on Aug. 31.

The board also approved hiring nine new support staff members, ranging from para-educators who assist special education students to food service workers. Volunteer coaches and sports events workers who had submitted background information were also approved.

The board also heard a report from Athletic Director Whitney Seltzer and Athletic Trainer Jessica Hoenich about training services and a new partnership with Wellspan Medical Group. This is the second year the district has contracted with Central Pennsylvania Rehab Services to provide full-time training services for its student competitors.

Sensenig said Hoenich provides day-to-day treatment at Cocalico High School, while Wellspan provides a team doctor to help staff games and give advice on returning to play post-injury.

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