The Kutztown Area School District School Board meeting on May 4 at the middle school celebrated student athletes with awards from the high school Principal Barry Flicker.

Some students attended the meeting to accept awards, including Zoe Keim, Pierre Reedy, Kody Reichert, Jacob Mengel, Beckham Sibiski and Sakira Fussner. In addition, Flicker said that Reedy will be one player representing the U.S. in an Olympic development program for soccer.

Another visitor to the meeting was high school physics teacher Katharine Lubinski, who talked about her experience visiting schools in China. Lubinski said that the school board sponsored her two-week trip, while school districts in China provided her housing.

Lubinski spent most of her trip visiting schools. What she hoped to bring back to students was the differences between education in their district and in China.

One major difference is the school day, which runs 12 hours. Students stay in the same classroom while teachers rotate throughout the day.

“There is very little free time for anyone,” she said.

While her class at the high school usually has 65 students, a Chinese class could only have 25. School for them is only mandatory until after ninth grade, and they often attend vocational school afterward in place of high school.

She also gave recommendations to the board about a possible student exchange program there. While the transition to another country was not hard for her, since her father was once stationed in Japan, she believed it would be an adjustment for the students.

“In order for them to do that, they would need a lot of cultural education,” she said.

Lubinski also suggested that the program not be as long for students, since she experienced breathing problems from pollution. Still she wants students to recognize how there is less recycling and laws restricting pollution in China as well as learn to not take things for granted.

“I don’t think they realize the difference between a first world country and a third world country,” Lubinski said.

Other items at the meeting included a revenue sharing update from Chris Harrington, the director of technology and innovative learning. Recently, he partnered with the school board, developing a plan for more blended education – a mix of online and classroom instruction. Through his consulting firm Harrington Education, he is in the vision stage for the next two to three weeks. Then the process will move on to developing a strategy for the district.

“We are evaluating and we will continue to do so,” he said.

A parent of a ninth-grader wondered if courses would be designated as online or if students could pick which classes they wanted online. Harrington said that both could happen. He plans to have another update at the May 18 board meeting.

The Board also continued a discussion of the 2015-16 budget and the five year budget outlook. The board’s treasurer, David Miller, attributes a lot of his projected increases from Public School Employees’ Retirement System costs. He does not anticipate a tax increase however, but estimates a 2.2 percent increase in the next year.

Board member Karl Nolte expressed concern about the projected technology budget increasing two times from the usual $40,000. Harrington explained that a lot of the costs come from Microsoft licensing and email charges. He said that the board could not change Microsoft programs because of uses in curriculum, but it could discuss other email servers. Members have to decide on email modifications by July 1.

Miller plans to continue budget talks at the next Budget and Finance Committee meeting on May 11 at 7 p.m. in the high school library.

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