Carlisle Area School District officials will study the feasibility of installing modular classroom units at Mooreland Elementary School to ease parental concerns of overcrowding.
“We’re going to be scheduling meetings in upcoming weeks,” acting Superintendent Christina Spielbauer said. “At first, it’s going to be the administrative team looking at it.”
Depending on their findings, a recommendation may go before the school board property committee and possibly to the board as a whole, which has the final say.
Parents of fourth-graders enrolled at Mooreland have suggested the use of modular units as one solution until the district could expand and renovate the school located at 329 Wilson St. in Carlisle.
Modular units are a good option to provide space for “specials” such as the art room, music room or computer lab, said Becky Hoffman, whose daughter attends Mooreland. She would prefer to keep the regular classrooms integrated within the building.
Large class sizes in the two sections of the fourth-grade prompted the district early in the school year to hire a third teacher and to increase the number of hours available to instructional aides, Spielbauer said.
She said a portion of the students from each of the two main classrooms are sent to the third teacher, who has a classroom to provide students with instruction primarily in math and language arts. Beyond that, the third teacher alternates between the two main classrooms to provide small group instruction and other support.
“They took away the music classroom,” PTO Vice President Melinda Schildt said of the district. “The music teacher goes around on a cart.” Her daughter is in the fourth grade at Mooreland.
“They have put the renovation off twice,” Schildt said. “The building was supposed to be expanded and renovated. None of that has happened and it has been over eight years now. They have put it off with no definitive date.”
Though easier to install than performing new construction, modular units would require a permit and an adequate amount of level ground on the campus, Spielbauer said. “It does take a decent amount of time to put units into place if that is the route the district believes is in the best interest to go.”
The recent completion of the Hamilton Elementary School project clears the way for district officials to have stepped-up talks over a project at Mooreland, Spielbauer said. “It has been on the radar for a while. We are in the initial stages.” She did not know when construction could begin.
Christian Muniz became aware of the overcrowding problem at back-to-school night early in the year. At the time, his daughter was one of 29 students enrolled in a fourth-grade class. The other section had a similar number of children.
“There was a collective gasp among parents,” recalled Muniz, who was concerned about the greater amount of distractions and less one-on-one time that goes with larger class sizes. His daughter feels lost within such a large group.
“I want to emphasize my great respect for the teachers,” Muniz said. “Though the years I have sent them emails and copied the principal thanking them for the great job. I know their hands are somewhat tied when it comes to class sizes.”
Large class sizes make it difficult for teachers to teach effectively, Schildt said. “There is a lack of cohesion in the classroom. Students do not learn as well. The kids that get lost in the mix as those that need special attention.”
She said there is definitive research proving that small class sizes result in better learning outcomes and more well-adjusted students. All three parents want the school district and school board to implement an official policy regarding class sizes.
“We don’t have a policy on class size,” Spielbauer said. “Administratively we have a range of what we utilize for class sizes.”
This takes the form of a procedure where building principals notify the central office whenever enrollment in a grade level approaches or exceeds a threshold in the number of students per classroom.
Changes are not automatic. Instead this puts administrators on alert to more closely monitor the classroom conditions and, if deemed appropriate, make adjustments by either hiring more staff or by increasing the amount of instructional aide hours, Spielbauer said. “It gives us more flexibility as a district because not every grade level or situation is exactly the same.”
For kindergarten, first and second grades, the district would prefer class size not to exceed 24 students because children that young need a smaller teacher-student ratio to facilitate instruction on the foundational skills of learning, Spielbauer said.
As third, fourth and fifth grades, the threshold goes up to 28 students per classroom because older students are more able to do things for themselves and to work independently.
In the case of Mooreland, administrators decided early in the year to hire a third fourth-grade teacher and to boost the instructional aide hours. Principal Kim Trunkenmiller was put in charge of selecting which students from the two main classrooms would be sent to the third teacher for math and language arts instruction. Hoffman’s daughter was among those selected.
Hoffman is against the idea, saying it is not the best solution to the problem of overcrowding. Her daughter feels as though she is missing out from what the main class is doing and worries that her peers are working on something different.
“There is no cohesiveness now,” said Hoffman, adding that her daughter has been with the same children the whole time.
“All three teachers work very closely with one another,” Spielbauer said. “The principal, teachers and the counselor will provide support to the students to make sure there is a very smooth transition.”
Muniz wants the school board as part of its budget process to deem low class sizes a priority and to allocate money, perhaps from reserves, into a contingency fund that specifically addresses overcrowding not just at Mooreland, but at other schools within the district.
“I know they walk a fine line,” said Muniz, referring to how board members contend with the unpredictable costs of pension and health care along with reductions in state education subsidies. But school district budgets are all about setting and defining priorities and small class sizes should be a part of that thinking, Muniz said.
Spielbauer said the district almost every year sets aside enough money to hire one to two new teachers to address overcrowding issues that sometime surface in the fall.
As a rule, Carlisle estimates the cost of each teacher at between $75,000 and $80,000 including salary, benefits and the district’s contribution to the state retirement system, Spielbauer said.
This year, one of the new hires was the third fourth-grade teacher at Mooreland while the other new hire was an additional kindergarten teacher at Crestview Elementary School.
The Crestview teacher became necessary when 15 new students showed up without prior notice the first day of school, Spielbauer said. She said kindergarten is the hardest grade level for school districts to project enrollment.
It’s not often that a grandmother has her first book published at 77.
It’s even less common for her granddaughter to do the concept art for the children’s book.
But, that’s what Phyllis Orenyo of Carlisle and her granddaughter, Melanie Deinstadt, recently accomplished with the publications of “My Cat Is A Hat” through the Charles Bruce Foundation.
Proceeds from the book promote the arts in the area.
This year, the foundation paid security deposits to help a homeless artist and a homeless musician find housing. It has also assisted musicians with purchasing a vehicle and other musicians with financing sound equipment for their performances.
The foundation also pays for musicians to perform at fundraisers for organizations like Carlisle Arts Learning Center and Carlisle CARES so that the nonprofit can reduce overhead costs on such events.
On average, the foundation helps at least one writer, artist or musician each week.
The foundation raises and spends about $20,000 a year with most gifts to the community ranging from $35 to $2,500.
Book sales are the primary source of community support and are on sale locally at the Bosler Library Bookery, CALC and Pat Craig Studios. It is also available at the foundation’s sales site at https://squareup.com.
A. I had a terrific cat, Tristan, who was the inspiration for this book. He was always with me and insisted on sleeping with me at night, on my pillow, usually above my head, but sometimes actually on my head! I used to ask him if he thought he was a hat, and voila, the idea for this poem was born.
A. Melanie loves to draw and she is actually quite the artist. When she read the poem, she was inspired to illustrate it. At the tender age of ten, she drew the original prototypes which became the basis for the illustrations created by Chad Bruce.
A. I was invited to join a small group of local writers who meet once a month to share their work, comments, suggestions and support for one another. One of the authors in the group is Pat LaMarche who is married to Chad Bruce. When I read my poem, Pat’s reaction was “Why hasn’t this been published?”
She then went on to tell me all about the Charles Bruce Foundation and that the foundation would publish my book. I was so moved by the great contribution the foundation makes to the community of writers, artists and musicians that I offered to donate any and all profits from this book to the Foundation.
A. Yes, hopefully I will be fortunate to have another book published. I am currently working on two more rhyming stories, one about llamas, and the other, unicorns. I am hoping that my granddaughter, Melanie, will be a part of them as well. And, of course, that Chad will bring my words to life with his illustrations.
A. I have always loved writing and have been writing since I was in grade school. Rhyming seems to be a natural conduit for me, and there are times I actually think in rhymes!
This project has been a joy. I wrote “My Cat is a Hat” as a story in poem form decades ago, and when I was offered this immense opportunity for publication, I was beyond delighted. Melanie’s drawings and Chad’s illustrations really brought the story to life and I am still pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.
A new JoJo’s Pizza still is in the works for Upper Allen Township, but an opening date remains uncertain, its owner said on Nov. 7.
A second JoJo’s location is slated to open in Upper Allen Commons, a new shopping center located in the 2200 block of Aspen Drive. Upper Allen Township Board of Commissioners approved land development plans for the 5,640-square-foot strip mall in April 2016, but Nino Purpuro, owner of Upper Allen Commons and JoJo’s, said he does not have an opening date for the pizza restaurant.
“I still don’t know when it’s opening, but it’s getting closer,” Purpura said. “I just want it to be perfect. There’s no one thing holding it up. I’m just taking my time.”
In April 2016, Upper Allen Township Commissioners approved land development plans for the 5,600-square-foot strip mall, of which roughly 2,400 square feet will be used for the restaurant, according to meeting minutes. Another 3,200 square feet of the strip is earmarked for up to three other retail tenants with a minimum division space of 1,350 square feet for each unit.
Conditional approval for the new restaurant and strip mall was granted by township commissioners in November 2014. According to meeting minutes, developers were working with PPL to resolve right-of-way issues during the interim.
Purpura said he is still is seeking tenants for the other retail spaces in the center. The building’s exterior and lighting systems are completed, Purpura said, but the vacant storefronts interiors remain unfinished so they can meet the specifications of future tenants. The spaces currently are being advertised online websites through a Century21 Real Estate broker.
Purpura also owns the JoJo’s Pizza restaurant located at 107 W. Main St. in Mechanicsburg, which opened in 1968, according to its website. The popular community fixture offers specialty pizza, pasta, subs, desserts and more. In addition to longtime menu favorites, the new JoJo’s is expected to feature Farm Show milkshakes with Flavorburst selections.
Purpura said he’s expanding his JoJo’s franchise to Upper Allen because, “We’re in a good place. We thought that Upper Allen needed this and we wanted to expand.”
Although Purpura said that he’s applied for a liquor license for the new JoJo’s, “It doesn’t guarantee it means that I’m going to get it.”
In a May 2015 referendum, Upper Allen Township residents voted to allow the sale of alcohol within the township. Before that, the township was considered a dry municipality for nearly 100 years.
When Shippensburg Police arrived in the 100 block of North Washington Street early Sunday morning for a report of men attempting to illegally enter a home, they said they found the suspects being held at gunpoint by the homeowner.
According to police, a Johnstown man and his friend were intoxicated, mistook the home for a friend’s home and attempted to enter it when they were confronted by the homeowner around 1 a.m.
The two men attempted to flee, but the homeowner chased them down and held them at gunpoint until police arrived. The two were arrested for disorderly conduct and public drunkenness and taken to Cumberland County Booking Center, police said.
The Johnstown man’s blood alcohol content was measured at 0.333 percent — more than four times the legal limit — and his friend’s was 0.187 percent, according to police.
The names of the two suspects are currently being withheld until charges are entered into the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania.
Shippensburg Police Chief Fred Scott said the homeowner did not chase the suspects far, but advised residents to only give chase with a firearm only if a life is in danger. Otherwise, he said, it is best to call police.
“If you are going to chase somebody, you better be sure your life is in danger before you pull the trigger,” Scott said.
Pennsylvania allows for the use of force, and even the use of deadly force, for self-defense. However, for that to be considered justified, it must meet a few standards, like being immediately necessary and proportional to the threat as viewed by a reasonable person.
Deadly force can typically only be used in cases where the threat is of death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual assault.
Scott said it is not uncommon for police in Shippensburg to receive a few calls a month of intoxicated people attempting to enter the wrong home.
He said typically people leave one of the bars in town, get turned around and mistake a home for one to which they have legal access.