PUNXSUTAWNEY â The new SchoolReach notifications system in the Punxsutawney Area School District has worked well in its first attempts to communicate important messages to the public.
District superintendent Dr. Keith Wolfe pointed out that thankfully, the district has only had to use the system once so far this year.
âWeâve had one (weather)delay, and it worked well. I think it had 98 percent accuracy,â Wolfe said. âFor the most part, it has been good, and weâve been fortunate that the snowstorms have been going around us to the south. There wasnât that much change involved because people were able to receive those text messages through the Web site. I think when we can get everything switched over to the SchoolReach database, then we will be able to send text messages to individual parents when his or her child is absent from school.â
Wolfe noted that the computer program Skype is going to be utilized so an elementary student who is going to be absent from school over an extended period of time can have two-way visual communication to attend some of his classes.
âHis parents wanted to home- school him, which takes a lot of time and patience,â Wolfe said. âThis boy is going to be in and out of the hospital quite a bit, so I suggested that he Skype some of his classes. At certain times of the day, when the class is doing certain subjects, he can call in, and he will get to see his teacher and friends. He can see the classroom instruction that is going on and participate in it.â
Wolfe noted that this aspect of the system is important to him because all three of his children have spent time at the Childrenâs Hospital in Pittsburgh.
âI know what itâs like for your child to just be there and have all of his friends be the adults who work in the hospital,â Wolfe said. âThe mother was very appreciative, and so far, it has been working out very well. If that can bring a little bit of joy to his life every couple of days, itâs well worth it.
âWhen students are home bound, they just stay home and the teacher sends the work to the student. They complete it and send it back,â he said. âThis way, the student has some communication with his classmates and teacher.â
Wolfe added that one of his goals as the superintendent of schools is that he doesnât want One-to-One Computing to âjust be something that the district shows off from time to time.â
âThe tools are only as good as those who are trained to use them,â Wolfe said. âI wish we didnât have as many damages to the laptops with One-to-One computing, as we attempt to recoup the money from those damages. It would be nice to keep those costs down. The screens are what weâve had a problem with, and I think most of the trouble stems from misuse.
âIâve dropped my laptop computer at home, and it didnât break, so itâs not just a simple matter of it slipped off the table,â Wolfe explained. âIâve worked with kids for 20 years, so I know how they behave with equipment.â
On another topic, Wolfe said that he would like to make some changes to the twice-yearly newsletter that the district publishes.
âIâd like to see us publish it at the end of the first semester, and the end of the school year,â Wolfe explained. âI think weâre going to change the focus so that it covers a broader range of topics. Weâre going take a look at some of the things that are going on in each of the buildings during those semesters.â
Wolfe also said that he would like to receive submissions for the newsletters from teachers and students as well.
âI think it would make it more interesting for the reader by highlighting some areas of our district that donât receive much recognition,â Wolfe said. âOften times, the lionâs share of coverage will go to the high school level just because thatâs where so many activities happen.â
Wolfe pointed out that at the elementary level, principals Sharon Weber and Travis Monroe have just been notified that they will receive a grant that will be announced at tonightâs school board meeting.
âThose are the kinds of things that Iâm talking about â like the mobile science lab that came to the middle school,â he said. âWe could write an article about that from the perspective of the kids.â
The Punxsutawney Area School Board will hold its voting meeting at 7 p.m. tonight in the Central Office board room.