Survey: Laurel parents prefer traditional schooling

Laurel School District parents want their children back in a traditional school setting with teachers in the classroom. The results of the survey, which closed on July 3, were announced at Wednesday night's school board meeting. The results will be uploaded to the district's website this week. 

The survey went out to 1,050 parents, more than half of who have multiple children enrolled in the district.

The findings, as presented to the board by Superintendent Leonard Rich, include:

•58 percent said they intend to send their child on the bus, which will be using the same routes and runs with drivers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Buses will be sanitized twice a day.

•72.8 percent said they intend to permit their child to have lunch at school as normal. The cafeterias will be sanitized twice daily and cleaned between lunch periods. No salad or fruit bar will be offered and staff will wear PPE. A smaller lunch room will be designated to accommodate students who want to utilize it.

•76.2 percent said their children will participate in recess and physical education classes.

•73.2 percent said their children will participate in a traditional classroom setting. Classrooms will be cleaned daily, desktops and seats sanitized daily and disinfectants will be available to each teacher.

•87.3 percent said their child will attend traditional in-classroom learning while nine percent said they will take advantage of a synchronous virtual option through Google Classroom. This option can also be utilized if a child is home sick for the day. The district has heard from four students, two at each school, who are thinking about transferring out to the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School. It was noted by the administration PA Cyber has ramped up advertising in recent weeks to increase its enrollment.

Rich clarified some points about all residents, including all students, being required by a state health department order to wear masks during times when social distancing is not feasible.

"We understand the order, but if a student enters the building and does not have a mask on, we will assume that it is related to either ADA, a medical condition protected by HIPAA or even possibly a disability protected by IDEA," Rich said. "Under the rules of HIPAA, we are not allowed to ask for documentation. We can't ask for a parental waiver. We can't say, 'send in a note.' We can't ask, 'Why don't you wear a mask?' Given those set of circumstances, close to three-fourths of our community said they want their kid in the classroom."

The board also moved forward with its plan to create a school police force. The board voted to approve Joseph Sager, Matt Langdon, Shawn Hill and James Hoyland as school police officers at a rate of $20 an hour with no other benefits. The board also approved the purchase of a police vehicle from Hickory Township for no more than $3,000.

The vehicle is a 2013 Ford Taurus with all-wheel drive and 120- to 130,000 miles. 

In other business, the board:

•Awarded a bid to Hubert Company, LLC of $45,954 for a dishwasher

•Granted Rich and Tara Shreffler, interim business manager, full permission to PLGIT bank accounts

•Approved the 2019-20 district volunteer and non-instructional substitute listings for the upcoming school year and approved Madison Quigley, a Slippery Rock University student, as a student teacher.

•Approved a three-year contract with bus drivers through the 2022-23 school year.

•Hired Jennifer Conrad as business manager, at an $87,000 base salary, and as board secretary, at a rate of $3,000.

•Hired Kellie Jones as a full-time elementary teacher. Her salary is $49,387.

•Approved language changes to the human resource/payroll secretary and purchasing/accounts payable job descriptions. 

•Granted permission for the district to enter an agreement with Cray Youth & Family Services for a total cost of $31,694.30.

•Granted permission for the district to enter into an agreement with the Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV to purchase 250 seat licenses for a total cost of $3,125.

•Granted permission for the district to enter an agreement with the Seneca Valley School District for the district's Cyber Service Program beginning this year and ending in the 2024-25 school year and not to exceed $25,493 for up to 50 seat licenses.

•Granted permission for the district to enter an agreement with Vision Benefits of America for an additional 24-month period from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, 2022, with no rate changes.

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Digital editor

Pete Sirianni is the News' assistant editor and digital editor. He is a proud Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate, earning a degree in journalism and public relations. Contact him at or on Twitter at @PeterSirianni.

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