COUDERSPORT — Raising substitute teacher pay and deepening the pool of available subs was a matter of lengthy discussion at the Feb. 10 Coudersport School Board meeting.

The issue was first raised during the curriculum committee report and Business Manager John Abplanalp reviewed a spreadsheet, detailing the coverage and deficits of coverage from the current school year. Committee Chair Micki Brown advised the board that they talked a lot about adjusting the pay rate as well as how they could recruit more viable applicants into the sub pool and Abplanalp suggested using an outside service to accomplish the latter.

During public comment Casey VanWhy, an elementary school teacher in the district, reiterated concerns she had previously raised about needing more substitutes and paying them better. VanWhy said there is a nationwide teacher shortage and that Coudersport needs to compete with surrounding districts.

“In the end, it’s hurting our students,” VanWhy said.

The board approved an emergency request by Superintendent Jackie Canter to apply for the School Year Approval Process to use PSERS retirees as substitute teachers as well as the addition of Hillary Beichner and Mark Benson to the existing sub pool. The board resolved to continue the discussion about raising substitute teacher pay and advertising for more subs at the March session.

As part of his monthly report, Abplanalp sought approval from the board to pass a resolution calling for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to advocate for charter school funding reform. Abplanalp reported the state Department of Education data shows that total charter school tuition payments, including brick-and-mortar as well as cyber, exceeded $1.8 million during the 2017-18 school year, with $519 million of that paid by districts for tuition and that the five-year average for tuition is approximately $239,000 per year. Though not included in the resolution, Abplanalp suggested encouraging Coudersport students to participate in the Intermediate Unit 9 virtual academy, which charges a significantly lower tuition rate.

The board unanimously approved the resolution.

The board also unanimously approved adding an extra 100 hours for the athletic trainer, a second reading of both the Suspension and Expulsion policy and the Procurement-Federal Programs policy, as well as first reading of the Investment of District Funds policy.

The board did not approve Sarah Baston’s trip request for Feb. 28 to Erie, to pick up art club fundraiser items. Connie Kallerson questioned the validity in using “taxpayer funds” to pay for a substitute teacher and pay for a rental of a van for the trip and suggested a volunteer be sought out.

The next public school board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on March 9 in the LGI board room at the high school.