TOWANDA -

The Towanda Area School District had a good first day of school on Monday, school principals said.

Noting that the district was the last in the county to start school this year, Towanda Junior/Senior High School Principal Dennis Peachey said: "The students seemed anxious to get back."

"I was very pleased with the first day," he said.

Pamela Hosterman, who serves as both the principal of the J. Andrew Morrow Primary School and the district's principal for curriculum, said the first day went very well at both the primary school and the Towanda Area Elementary School.

There is some construction at the junior/senior high school that is wrapping up, namely the $1.1 million replacement of the older part of the roof. And the replacement of the floor of the school's old gymnasium, which was damaged by leaking water during the roof replacement project, is expected to get under way later this month, Superintendent of Schools Steve Gobble said.

The old gym is temporarily out of commission due to the damage, Peachey said.

However, the replacement of the gym floor "is not going to impact phys. ed.," Gobble said. Peachey noted that there are other rooms in the school that can be used for phys ed during cold weather, such as the new gym, the weight room, and the wrestling room.

Nevertheless, Gobble said that the gym floor needs to be replaced before winter sports begin, which occurs in the second week of November. "We anticipate it will be done in plenty of time" before winter sports start, he said.

"Probably the only team (that normally uses the old gym at this time) is junior high volleyball," and the volleyball team is using the gym at the Towanda Area Elementary School until the repair is completed, Peachey said.

Gobble said that any sounds of the construction activity from the floor replacement project will not interfere with classroom activities. The old gym is in "an isolated area" of the school, he explained.

The roof replacement project, which began over the summer, is expected to be completed by Sept. 24, Gobble said.

The contractor working on the roof replacement has already completed the portion of the project that "would have interfered with the education of students in the school" and has moved on to an area of the roof, around the natatorium, where the work "will not impact the day-to-day operations of the school at all," Peachey said.

He said there is no risk that the roof replacement will impact the school's operations during the remainder of the project.

The new sidewalk along the north side of State Street, between the Towanda Area Elementary School and junior/senior high school, has been completed, Hosterman said.

The sidewalk, which was installed over the summer, "will improve the safety of students who have to walk in that area because of all the traffic in that area," she said.

While the district normally starts the school year earlier, it was postponed this year due to the fact that the teachers' contract with the district ended Sept. 1, Gobble said. Gobble explained that there were mixed indications from past court rulings on whether automatic raises for some teachers would have gone into effect if school started this year before Sept. 1.

Gobble said he and the school board wanted to avoid the automatic raises. "I believe the raises should be negotiated," he said.

Gobble said he had asked to the teachers' union to guarantee that the automatic raises would not occur, but the union declined to do so.

Therefore, the school board moved the start date for school to September, he said. Opening day was set for Sept. 9, because the district needed to schedule in-service days for teachers during the first week of September, he said.

Gobble said he does not foresee a problem occurring where teachers would refuse to oversee extracurricular activities due to the lack of a contract or walk off the job. "There has been no discussion of that" occurring, he said.

Curriculum

The district is in the process of posting the curriculum for its courses on its website, so that parents and the public can see it, Hosterman said.

So far, much of the curriculum for the junior/senior high school is already posted at the website, she said.

At the elementary and primary school level, reading and math curricula are expected to be accessible online by Nov. 15 and it is hoped that the writing curriculum will be posted by the end of this school year, she said.

To look at the curricula, go the website's home page, select "About TASD," and then click on "Curriculum."

Teachers in the district will also be starting to post blogs, which will allow parents to "see what is happening in the classroom," Hosterman said.

Hosterman said she expects that some of the blogs will be up and running by Nov. 15.

More information will be released to parents in the future on how to access the blogs, Hosterman said.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.