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The Elk Lake School District has been considering changes to the way it handles unpaid cafeteria balances.

At the Nov. 21 Elk Lake School Board meeting, Superintendent Ken Cuomo said the district may contract with a collections service to handle accounts which are $50 or more in debt.

“As of the first marking period, we’re already $3,000 in the hole,” he said. “We have a number of situations where we have students racking up significant debt.”

Last year, he said the district lost almost $700 alone through families who moved out of the district without paying their children’s outstanding balances.

Cuomo said the district attempts to contact parents by phone, email and letters, in some cases to no avail, and also encourages families who qualify to utilize the free and reduced lunch program.

Before contacting the collections service, the district would need to provide proof that it attempted to reach the parents, but this would ultimately be a last resort, he said.

“We will work with anybody,” Cuomo said. “The idea is not to get to that point to go to collections.”

In December, he plans to return to the board with a recommendation on how to proceed.

The board will also consider revising the district’s bussing policy next month. Currently, students could ride home on a different bus than they were assigned, provided that a parent first contacts the school.

“When you put that option out there for all students K-12, it can become very overwhelming for different offices,” Cuomo said.

Allowing this option also causes concerns for student safety, he said.

“We understand that emergencies take place and we have no problem addressing them,” he said. “We’re looking at continuing the practice of bus transfer notes, but revising when we will approve them and when we won’t,” he said.

A third potential change in the district could be transitioning to online report cards and progress reports on the parent portal for grades 2-12, which has been a goal of Cuomo’s for some time.

Kindergarteners and first graders would still receive paper report cards, and special education students would have their progress monitoring reports printed, Cuomo said.

Additionally, families with no internet/computer access would still have the option to request hard copies.

“It’s something we’re very seriously looking at moving forward with and piloting for the third and fourth marking period at the high school and the third trimester for grades 2-6,” he said.

Also on Thursday, the board accepted resignations from AJ Lunger, junior varsity baseball head coach; Holden Lunger, assistant varsity baseball coach; and Mark Bush, assistant junior varsity baseball coach.

Board members approved the following activity positions: Meghan Casselbury, eighth grade girls basketball, $2,741.93; Amber Kelley, seventh grade girls basketball, $2,272.23; and Whitney Search, boys varsity volleyball, $2,629.09.

They approved the following contracted assistant salary positions (60 percent): Craig Sprout, boys junior varsity soccer; Will Squier, assistant cross country; and Jehiel Boner, assistant cross country, all at a salary of $1,006.27, as well as extended season pay for nine coaches.

John Warnero, high school principal, said over 6,500 donations were collected for a canned food drive, and there are also plans to collect boxes of Rice-A-Roni in December.

Warnero congratulated students who attended County Band at Lackawanna Trail, as well as students Lizzy Rothwell and Dan Warholic, who qualified for PMEA District 9 Band.

Rothwell was also named Artist of the Week from WVIA along with Caitlyn Brown. The air dates of their TV segments are to be announced.

Warnero also attended a Safe2Say Something session, followed by a training update for Elk Lake students.

“We’re appreciative of the Safe2Say program for listening to some of the accommodations that we would like to see the program have to make it stronger,” he said.

Board members also approved the following:

*Substitute additions for the 2019-20 school year: Alex Rumage (maintenance), Rebecca Blaisure (non-CDL driver), Jack Waldenberger (prospective educator) and Theresa Nikula (cosmetology/CTC).

*A per capita tax exoneration for one resident in Middletown Township.

*The hiring of Theresa Hilliker for a second shift, full-time maintenance position at $12.10 per hour.

*A building technology services agreement with Johnson Controls, effective Dec. 1, 2019 through Nov. 30, 2020, totaling $14,941.

*The Sterling Act for 2018, which gives tax relief to people living in the Elk Lake School District who work in Philadelphia.

*Monday, Dec. 2 as a day off for district maintenance workers..