Mars Area school directors Tuesday approved several items geared to the start of school, including new hires, new equipment and new and revised policies.
A One-to-One (1:1) Computer Initiative will provide each high school student and some staff with a laptop to use in school and at home to access electronic textbooks and to do computer-based assignments.
The new policy outlines the responsibilities of the students and their parents, computer use restrictions and maintenance.
An informational meeting on the program will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 15 in the high school. All policies are available on the district's website.
In a related action, the board accepted a $16,000 donation from Mars National Bank to pay for sleeves for the laptops. The donation will be made over two years.
Several positions were filled, including supplemental contracts for sponsoring clubs. One special education teacher, one speech and language pathologist and three part-time paraprofessionals were hired.
The board also awarded a $22,387 contract to Slam Dunk Sports Marketing for wall pads for the gymnasiums at the high school and middle school. The pads will supplement existing wall pads so that the entire wall is covered, said board President J. Dayle Ferguson.
"Right now, we have it in one hot spot, but we want to extend it for the safety of our students," she said.
Parent Bryan Shoemaker asked when bus schedules will be available.
In February, the school board adjusted the start time for elementary students to allow teachers to have a common planning period in the morning.
Although classes are beginning five minutes later, at 9:05 a.m., students will not be allowed to arrive at school before 8:50 -- 20 minutes later than previous years.
"It impacts us quite a bit because now we are going to have to find child care in the morning while we are waiting for the bus," Mr. Shoemaker said.
Superintendent William Pettigrew said they are still working on the bus schedules, and they will be listed on the district website when they are finished -- perhaps the first week of August.
"I know we're not done because there are some runs that have to be tweaked," Mr. Pettigrew said.
He added that construction on Route 228 will affect the bus schedules.
"Whatever the schedule is, I can assure everyone that it is not going to be right. We can post all we want but we have no control over PennDOT," he said.
Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.