MILTON — As the Milton Area School District prepares for the first day of classes on Aug. 22, Superintendent Dr. Cathy Keegan said educators are excited to be bringing students from two schools together for the first time.
The school board voted in June to close Montandon Elementary School, transferring its approximately 130 students in kindergarten through fifth grade to Baugher Elementary School.
“A transition plan was developed and reviewed with the board,” Keegan said. “We worked through the plan throughout the summer and feel confident in our progress.”
She added that all families impacted were notified of the board’s decision to close the Montandon school.
“Staff members have shared they’re excited for this opportunity and think it’s a great way to bring our community together,” Keegan said. “Staff and students are excited about the transition and the new opportunities that await our students in the coming school year.”
She noted that a listing of student classrooms will be posted after 8 a.m. today.
An elementary open house is scheduled for 4:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20. A welcome picnic will be held as part of the open house.
Open house for middle and high school students and families will be held from 7 to 8:30 that same evening.
With the Montandon building now vacant, Keegan said multiple organizations have reached out to the district to express an interest in purchasing or leasing the property.
At the July school board meeting, Keegan said the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit (CSIU), Behavioral Services Inc. and Crossroads Church of the Nazarene all reached out to the district to express an interest in leasing the building.
“The board is interested in entering into a lease agreement for Montandon Elementary School,” Keegan said. “Meetings have occurred and building tours have been provided to those interested parties.”
She said the board will be provided with the results of those tours “so they can make an educated decision before moving to the next step of meeting with West Chillisquaque Township officials.”
Township supervisor Vaughn Murray pointed out that the site is currently being used as a school building.
“The category in the village district that falls under is public-quasi use,” he explained. “That is allowable by special exception in the village district... Depending on what the future use is, there’s a likelihood it would need to go before the zoning hearing board to make sure it is an appropriate use.”
Before the building is used for a new purpose, Murray said an application will need to be filed with the township’s zoning officer.
He said the officer could make a determination on whether the use is permitted under the current conditions.
“If there’s any question about the appropriateness of the use, it will be referred to the zoning hearing board (for consideration),” Murray said.
While he prefers the facility be reopened as an elementary school, Murray doesn’t want to see the building remain vacant.
“I’m hoping they find a productive use for it, as a taxpayer,” he said. “I don’t want to see a building sitting there.”
In addition to the transfer of students from Montandon to Baugher elementary schools, Keegan said other changes are also occurring in the district.
“Parents will be receiving a letter telling them that transportation system changes have been made,” Keegan said. “Pay particular attention to the bus card as buses, times and stops may have changed.”
Families will also be notified of a district-wide wellness policy which she said puts strict guidelines on food and snacks that can be brought into classrooms.
Changes in curriculum are also taking place. At the elementary and middle school, Keegan said new math curriculum titles PA Ready Mathematics and iReady are being implemented.
“Also at the elementary level, we are working to enhance our STEM program to include additional opportunities for students to engage in activities related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” she said.
At the high school level, both the Criminal Justice and Agriculture programs are being elevated from part-time to full-time programs.
Keegan said safety and security will remain a high priority in the district.
“We are also heavily involved regionally with social, emotional and behavioral health programming,” she noted.
Keegan added that staff and administrators in the district are ready for the new school year.
“We are excited for students to arrive for the 2019-2020 school year,” she said.
Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.