Moon schools to hold strategic plan meetings through May 30

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Moon Area School District administrators hope to pick the brains of a wide-ranging sample of Crescent and Moon taxpayers about ways to improve the educational experience for students during a series of strategic plan meetings that begin tonight and continue through May 30.

The first step in the process was to hire former Lancaster New Era education reporter Robyn (Meadows) Hodgson to serve as consultant for overhauling the plan as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Mrs. Hodgson will be paid $200 per day plus a per diem of approximately $196 per day for lodging, food and other expenses. Her contract calls for a maximum expenditure of $16,000 and runs through June 23. Board members Jerry Testa and Michael Hauser voted against her appointment Monday night.

Mr. Testa questioned superintendent Curt Baker about a former working relationship with Mrs. Hodgson, who did not speak. Mr. Testa later said he was unaware she was in attendance..

Mr. Baker, who joined the School District of Lancaster as chief executive officer in November 2004, said he knew the applicant but did not respond when asked if she was the hiring board’s first choice in finding a school/community relations and grants coordinator. That newly created position was not filled.

Strategic plan discussions will focus on how the district can reach a goal set by directors of becoming a top 1 percent school district. There will be nine topics discussed during 18 sessions.

The idea behind the conversations is to “build the process forward and improve our chances for success,” said Mr. Baker.

Among the topics are: What will it take to have people move to Moon and Crescent because of the schools? What role should technology play in achieving success both instructionally and administratively? What can be done to attract and retain the finest teaching staff in Pennsylvania? How does the district assure appropriate services are provided to students with special needs?

In addition to the strategic planning meetings, Mr. Baker will be holding roundtable gatherings about the district's elementary school capital improvement plan. The meetings will be held in each of the five elementary buildings.

On March 3, the administration released a $25 million recommendation calling for the closure of J.H. Brooks, the renovation of J.A. Allard and R. Hyde school buildings and an implementation of a four-elementary school configuration. A public hearing was held March 10 in the high school, and parents have spoken against the proposal at public board sessions.

Comments gathered during the elementary roundtable discussions will be presented to school directors by June 6 with a board decision expected June 23.

For times and dates of sessions, go to

To register for discussions: 412-264-9440, ext. 1106, or

Sonja Reis, freelance writer:

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