FOXBURG - High school prom season is right around the corner and the Allegheny-Clarion Valley School Board is leaning toward making its 2021 prom season happen later rather than sooner.
At the district's recent virtual workshop meeting, the board discussed if the high school should hold a prom and if so, when it should be held.
A-C Valley, much like every other school district across the country, was forced to cancel its senior prom in 2020 due to the school shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board discussed possibly moving the senior prom from its tentative May 1 date until a date in June at the conclusion of the school year.
May 1 is the tentative date because it is the only date the professional music service the prom committee booked has available. The committee booked the service with a deposit for last year's prom but because of the prom cancellation, the service did not fulfill the contract. However, the service held on to the deposit to be used for this year's prom.
Exploring the move is mostly due to weather concerns. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school would prefer to hold the prom outside if possible but if held on May 1, there is a chance of inclement weather.
The prom committee does not have the funds to rent a larger venue to ensure there is enough space for social distancing purposes.
Board member Jameen Stump proposed the prom be moved to later in the month of May but board member Carrie Armagost stated there might be conflicts with track and field meets on those weekends.
The major issue with holding the prom in June is the prom would not be held during the school year. A-C Valley's graduation is scheduled for May 28.
Armagost also pointed out the cost increases if the prom is moved to June.
"The problem you are going to run into is the cost for (music services) goes up in June because that is prime wedding season, and our prom committee is working with a very limited budget," Armagost said.
A-C Valley Superintendent Dr. David McDeavitt suggested if the prom was held in the first week of June, it could be held midweek because there would be no school. Moreover, McDeavitt said he believes if the prom was held midweek, more music providers might be available possibly at a lower cost.
McDeavitt also suggested the prom could be held at the school to keep the costs down.
Stump believes if the prom was held midweek, the prom committee would have a better chance of reserving a large outdoor tent because the tents are usually booked for outdoor weddings. Stump also offered to pay for the rental of the tent out of her own pocket.
Board member Lena Southworth had a concern regarding COVID-19 protocols if the prom is held on school grounds.
"We tried to have homecoming at the school and hardly any of the kids were wearing their masks," Southworth said. "I have at least 15 pictures of kids downright not wearing masks. If they are going to have a prom, have a prom but they have to enforce the rules. That to me is a huge rule breaker and if they can't guarantee those masks are going to be worn, then I don't want a prom."
In other business, the board discussed scrapping the plan to use flexible instruction days for snow days.
Spurring on the change is a concern over the safety of the district's bus drivers and staff. When the district holds remote instruction instead of cancelling classes, the staff has to report to the school while the bus drivers have to transport meals to the students.
McDeavitt originally applied to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the district to be able to convert up five snow days to flexible instruction days. However, McDeavitt believes the district should use up the available snow days on the schedule if inclement weather makes travel to school unsafe.
McDeavitt said he will cancel classes for inclement weather and utilize the snow days built into the calendar for the remainder of the school year.