The Mars Area school board unanimously approved a four-year contract Tuesday with assistant superintendent Matthew Friedman and a calendar for the 2013-14 school year.
Mr. Friedman's new contract expires Jan. 1, 2017. Starting salary is $95,000.
"You brought a lot of energy and new ideas," board President J. Dayle Ferguson told him.
Classes will begin Aug. 26 and the last day will be scheduled between May 29 and June 5, depending on how many snow days are needed.
The calendar also includes five prescheduled two-hour delays for staff development -- Sept. 3, Oct. 10, Nov. 1 and Feb. 10 and April 22, 2014.
In other business, the board unanimously approved the addition of a seventh-grade math class for students who did poorly in sixth-grade math and on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test.
Currently, students who scored 90 percent or better in sixth grade move onto Advanced Math 7, while everyone else takes Math 7. That is too large a skills gap, said middle school principal Richard Cornell.
The new Math 7 class will be for students who scored 69 percent or lower in sixth grade. The class for students who scored between 70 and 89 percent will be renamed Mathematics Pre-Algebra, while the higher-level class will be renamed Pre-Algebra Advanced.
Also, parent Brian Felicetti told board members that he opposes a proposal by superintendent William Pettigrew to change the start times for elementary students to give teachers a planning period at the same time.
Mr. Pettigrew suggested moving the start time from 8:30 to 9 a.m. at the primary center, elementary school and Centennial School for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
The day would end at 3:40 p.m., 20 minutes later than it does now.
"I find this very detrimental. There is just a lot of lost education time there," Mr. Felicetti said.
That 10-minute daily loss translates to 30 hours of "lost education time" per year. Add in the planned, two-hour delays and that lost time increases to 40 hours, he said.
Sandy Trozzo, freelance: email@example.com.