The Huntingdon Area School Board unanimously approved a revision to the 2018-2019 school calendar during its meeting March 11.

Despite a number of cancellations due to winter weather, revision keeps June 5 as the date of commencement.

“Our goal was to keep graduation (the same),” said district superintendent Fred Foster. To do so, the calendar added two additional Saturdays for seniors to make sure they reached their required educational hours: May 18 and June 1.

“(Seniors) will graduate Wednesday (June 5),” Foster said. Underclassmen will have two half-days rounding out the rest of that week, June 6 and 7.

The revised calendar also counted Oct. 22 and Jan. 21 as two makeup days under Act 80. Act 80 allows a school superintendent to count non-normal school days toward the required 180 days of schooling as long as the days contained educational activities. Students must also still receive the required number of instructional hours.

Foster commented the revision allows the school to have one more school day cancellation before they have to revise once again.

“If we would have another snow day, we left Easter Monday as an option to not have to make another change in the calendar as far as make-up days go,” said Foster.

The school board previously approved a revision to the school calendar at its Feb. 11 work session.

“Let’s hope this is the last time,” said board president Danyle Shea.

Also during the meeting, the school board approved a proposal from Standing Stone Consulting Inc. for professional services to “update the district’s threat, vulnerability and risk assessment” for $7,250 for all four buildings.

The assessment needs updated every three years and would be paid for by the School Safety and Security Grant.

During the discussion of the proposal, board member Susan Grainey asked why the board did not approve a proposal from Rain Public Planning, which estimated the cost would be for $5,454.50, around $1,800 less than the Standing Stone proposal, if the estimation is correct.

Foster acknowledged Rain Public Planning’s proposal was less, but explained Standing Stone Consulting had prior familiarity with the school district, having performed the assessment three years ago.

“Also supporting local ties into that (decision) as well,” Foster said.

Standing Stone operates out of Huntingdon, while Rain Public Planning operates out of Elizabethtown.

“We’ve been satisfied with Standing Stone in the past and satisfied with their product,” Foster said.

District solicitor Brendan Moran of Beard Legal Group noted the school is not required to take the lowest estimate.

“Since this is a service rather than any goods or anything regarding that service, (the school board) is not required to take the lowest bid,” Moran said.

“Then why bid at all?” asked board member Dr. Ronald Long.

Foster explained the bidding process is to follow the ethical guidelines since school board member Ian Thompson is associated with Standing Stone Consulting. Thompson was not present at the meeting.

Moran explained the process is done so it does not look like the school board is “handing a contract over to (Standing Stone Consulting).”

“But we are when (an estimate) comes in less,” Long said. “It gives that flavor.”

“I understand that point,” Moran said. However, he explained the issue came up three years ago when the previous report was performed as well and the ethics commission said contracting with a company associated with a board member is allowed as long as the board member is not voting on the motion or leading the project.

“From what I’ve been told, Ian (Thompson) has nothing to do with the services provided. He’s not touching the services at all, so there wouldn’t be an ethical violation under the ethics code,” Moran said.

After discussion, the board voted on the proposal. Board members Susan Grainey and Dr. Richard Long voted against the proposal. Members Janice Metzgar, Debra Clark, Carolyn Payne, Cindy Dell, Tammy Peterson and president Danyle Shea voted for it.

The next board meeting will be the a combined work session and board meeting and held in the high school library at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 18.

Jesse can be reached at jrice@huntingdondailynews.com.

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