Cranberry students get much praise at board meeting

Cranberry students involved in several artistic ventures came in for some hearty praise from the school board at a meeting Monday.

Students in a journalism class, an elective involving 27 students under the direction of teacher Trisha Dixon, presented an overview of their projects undertaken in the current school year.

Several of those young people enrolled in the course have won top honors at media-related competitions this year.

Offering details about their work that ranges from live-stream videos of school events to photographs, blogs, columns, news stories, interviews, promotional articles and more were journalism students A.J. Howard, Lacey Miller, Sara Uddin, Dylan Salsgiver and Gabby Allaman.

“We’ve received phenomenal feedback,” said Uddin, who serves as the media producer for the class. “People are watching us.”

On the topic of Cranberry’s sports programs, Salsgiver said the goal for programming is “to get Cranberry athletics out to the public.”

In concluding the brief presentation, Uddin said, “The class has taught us new things about ourselves.”

School board president Tom Neely lauded the journalism class students for their “fantastic creativity.”

On another student-related front, high school principal Ritt Smith outlined recent school events and spoke specifically about the high school musical “Cinderella,” which was presented over four days earlier this month.

“People came from all over the region,” said Smith. “So many said nobody does this like Cranberry. (The musical) is a showcase for the school.”

New program discussed

District Superintendent Bill Vonada said a new competitive program designed by the Venango County Economic Development Authority to foster entrepreneurship could involve two Cranberry High School seniors next year.

The authority is creating an Entrepreneur Academy that will involve selected seniors attending business and related classes at Venango College of Clarion University for two hours a day.

The cost for enrollment will be $1,400 per student, said Vonada. Noting he believed “it’s a great opportunity for kids,” the superintendent expressed reservations, though, as to the cost.

Neely suggested that should the district pick up the tab, it could “open a Pandora’s Box” because of requests for similar financial support from other students who are taking college-level courses while in high school.

“There could be half a dozen or 10,” said Neely.

When some school board members wondered if local businesses might be approached to help underwrite the program, Neely said the district will explore that concept as well as other options.

Audit is approved

James Heasley of May & Company reviewed the school district audit for the school year that ended June 30, 2018, and reported there were no findings and no deficiencies.

“You outperformed the budget by $1 million last year,” said Heasley. “That’s a tremendous job of managing the district. You had a good year financially.”

On the subject of the district budget, business manager Henry Karg told the board the preliminary 2019-20 school budget figures show $19.4 million in projected revenue. That is slightly higher than the current $19,027,213 budget.

“It’s always a work in progress,” said Karg, adding that the federal budget now being prepared could cut some funding for district programs.

In other matters:

— The board voted to award a $1,285,238 contract to J&T Paving Inc. of Greenville for paving work at the high school. The work will begin June 6.

— A contract was approved with Metz Culinary Management Inc. of Dallas, Pennsylvania, as the district’s food service management company. The contract is for the 2019-20 school year and includes options for annual renewals.

— Betty Sue Sheffer was hired for a cafeteria worker position at the elementary school.

— The board agreed to allow the Venango Joint Ministerial to use the high school auditorium for a Palm Sunday evening service on April 14.

— Three summer programs for physical education, school classes and driver education were approved. The classes offer both remedial and advanced studies.

— Resignations were accepted from Shawn Bean as the junior high girls basketball coach and Michaela Manross as the junior high girls volleyball coach.

— Merissa Wenner was hired as the junior high volleyball coach. Sarah Earp was hired as a full-time child specific care aide.

— The board approved the Riverview Intermediate Unit 6 annual operating budget for next year. The district’s payment will be $21,252.