DuBois Area School Board hears plans for curriculum, Health and Safety Plan, and a request for a new activity by Glenn Schuckers

The DuBois Area School Board held its first work session of 2022 following a special session to  fill a vacant seat. That seat was filed by previous member David Schwab who was present for the work session. All members except Larry Salone and Jeff Mattinger were present for the meeting.

The first item of business was superintendent Wendy Benton’s presentation of the revised Health and Safety Plan which outlines the plans and procedures for all buildings and personnel in the district for the coming year. That plan, Benton said, is available on the district’s website, meets State requirements  and will be voted on at a coming regular meeting. 

Following that Nicole Hill presented a lot of information on Esports, which she described as what many people call “gaming.” She said that the rise in popularity of this activity has led many schools to include it in their offerings as as extra-curricular activity for high school students. Hill added some students who may not be attracted to traditional sports activities welcome the chance to compete in this electronic competition, and the values of socialization and teamwork usually associated with traditional sports are included in Esports. 

Hill noted that three area schools, Brookville, Clarion, and Elk County Catholic already have Esport teams as well as Penn State, Pitt, Edinboro Universities and Juniata College,  now also have teams. 

She said that Board’s approval of the program would be the first step in establishing a program and that after that it would need and advisor, a designated  space such as a classroom and the necessary equipment which she said would require some $49,000. 

A survey at  the high school has shown that some forty-two students are interested, so once the board approves the program they would need a job description for the advisor and space that is set  aside for practice and competition. A number of the board members present asked questions about the program and seemed open to further discussion and possible approval, saying such an activity would be a benefit to the students.

Three members of the administrative team then presented the proposed Course Selection Guide for the coming 2022-2023 school year. One of the highlights of that guide would be the creation of a Financial Literacy requirement that would prepare graduates for taking care of their financial status as they enter the world. Members Anne Young, Brian Weible, and Chuck Pasternak said they had worked with the Board Curriculum Committee, department heads, teachers,  and  administrators to develop the revised guide, with Weible  and Pasternak saying that much of the credit for the new guide should go  to Ms. Young who had been the lead in writing it. 

Board member Charlie Watt asked Benton about the status of the morale of the staff in the schools during the pandemic. She said that there has been additional stress caused by the virus and that there had been a shortage of substitute teachers that had been reduced by the increased pay rate for these teachers, but generally the  schools have continued to operate as closely to normal as possible.

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