Pleasantville Schools looking at graduation options

Dr. Tony Aylsworth, Superintendent of Pleasantville Schools

Pleasantville Schools Superintendent Dr. Tony Aylsworth is complimentary of the way his staff have responded and worked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Staff has done a tremendous job,” Aylsworth said. “I’m impressed with the work they’ve done.”

For instance, the elementary staff have done a variety of lessons on Google Classroom. Some have also provided hard copies of worksheets for students. Aylsworth did not have hard data for how many families have participated in the continuous learning programming – in place since March – but 30-40 percent of students nationwide have participated in such efforts. He estimates that Pleasantville’s percentage is probably higher.

Aylsworth, High School Principal Gary Friday, and others, took part in a Google Hangout with members of the Class of 2020. They walked through different concepts for graduation and how it may work.

Everyone would like to hold on to the originally scheduled May 17 date for graduation. One possibility discussed was a parade graduation, in which a route would be announced and shared. Students would then ride in the back of pickup trucks, convertibles, etc., while maintaining a safe distance. They could then wave to onlookers as a public address system announces them.

“As long as we can pull it off safely,” Aylsworth said. Even if something like that is done May 17, the district hopes to hold a formal graduation, possibly in late June.

There are 66 seniors for PHS this year. The district has also ordered yard signs to highlight them, which will be placed along Jones Street. Lights on the stadium may be lit for 66 minutes, one for each senior. Nothing has been finalized, but Aylsworth’s goal is to create experiences for the students that are meaningful and cool.

Looking ahead to the fall, there are different possibilities. One that is being considered is a return in early August to help refresh the students and get them ready for their 2020-21 grade level. If this is done, the 2020-21 year will end sooner. Funding will play a role in what the district decides to do.

Stadium project update

A meeting was planned for this morning (Monday, April 27) with the facilities leadership committee regarding improvement projects. Aylsworth believes options for the stadium project will be discussed at the May board meeting, and the project will be delayed.

Money the district receives from the one-cent statewide sales tax is going to pay for the stadium project. However, a 30-40 percent drop in revenue from this tax is expected, due to the pandemic. The district needs to be cautious, and Aylsworth believes this project can be delayed versus other building maintenance, such as tuck-pointing.

“Delaying the stadium project for another year or so won’t be too bad,” Aylsworth said.