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The Susquehanna Community School District Board met for their end of the year reorganization on December 4, with all members present; their regular monthly meeting immediately followed.
To conduct election of officers, Mike Kosko was elected president pro tempore. Two nominations for board president were made, Jim Bucci and Jack Downton, with Mr. Bucci receiving five votes. Mr. Bucci was then sworn in by board secretary Evelyn Cottrell.
One nomination was made for board vice president, Terry Carpenter, who, after a vote was taken, was sworn in by Mrs. Cottrell.
The reorganization meeting adjourned, and the regular meeting was called to order.
Superintendent Stracka reported that the athletic field dugouts are nearing completion; fencing has been installed and only some minor touches are needed. High school art department students will be painting the Sabers logo on the back, most likely in spring.
High School Principal Mike Lisowski said, that, over the course of the next few months, he would be periodically highlighting some of the programs offered at the district that may not be well known. This evenings presentation would be about the Saber Support Team which is, he said, a very important one. He invited teacher Tammy Stone to address the board to outline the program.
Mrs. Stone gave an overview; she said that the program, mandated in all fifty states, originated in the 1980s; it requires a three-day training session for faculty members involved. Its purpose is to identify "at-risk" students and to refer them to the appropriate source of assistance. Once the students area of need has been identified, parents are contacted to discuss services available, such as support groups for anger management, teen issues, drug and alcohol use, stress management and other topics; hopefully, participation in these support groups would decrease the number of students who need to be referred to other agencies. She added that the parent or student may choose not to participate in the program, it is not mandatory.
Mr. Lisowski commented that the program has grown in "leaps and bounds" and has been very productive. Overall, he said, there has been a noticeable improvement in students behavior. The program, he said, has been "working wonders."
Mrs. Stone added that the higher number of students who are now participating does not indicate that there are more students who need help, only that more are being identified as such. And, she said, all student referrals are kept confidential.
The meeting schedule for the coming year was approved; meetings will be held on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. in the administration office in the elementary building on the following dates: January 15, February 19, March 19, April 16, May 14, June 18, August 6, September 17, October 15 and December 3. Information and deliberation sessions are usually held on the Monday preceding the meeting, same time and place.
Additions to the substitute list were approved: Nicole Henderson, teacher K-12; bus drivers Barbara Cottrell, Bill Jenkins, Andrea Matta, Jim Sellitto; and Theresa Felter, teacher aide.
Three bus contract changes were approved, due to students moving into the district or requiring out-source services at other schools.
The resignation of Robert Presley, elementary wrestling coach, was accepted. Retirement was approved for Shirley Silipo, elementary library aide, effective January 15. Leaves of absence were approved for Michele Conklin, January 10 through March 7; and Matthew Misiura (assistant baseball coach), for the 2002-03 school year.
Hiring of the following was approved: Michael Keyes, assistant junior high boys basketball coach; John Dunn, wrestling game manager; Joseph Burke, Jr., junior high girls basketball (volunteer).
A list of activities, conferences, workshops and fund-raisers was approved.
And, the board authorized Mr. Stracka and Mr. Lisowski to pursue a co-sponsorship agreement with the Blue Ridge School District, covering boys and girls soccer, football, football marching band and football cheerleading. Mr. Downton questioned the proposal; if this action was being taken due to the low number of students who are participating in these activities, couldnt the situation be addressed here in the district before proceeding? Mr. Stracka said that the intent is to look ahead, to have a viable athletic program in the future. The coaches, he said, had conducted an extensive recruiting program and a number of students expressed interest. But, when the time came, those students chose not to participate. And, requirements for junior football students were changed, from grade 6, 115 pounds to grade 8, 150 pounds, which further limited the number of participants starting out at the lower level. The program ended up with 18 students this year; with three injuries, that number dropped. Going to varsity games with so few students would be putting their physical health in danger. The proposal, he said, is an opportunity to do something for a whole lot of kids, and to discuss the idea with Blue Ridge; if it were to be decided to proceed, both districts would have to (formally) approve any agreement. "Lets see if theres interest on both sides," he said.
Board member Johnine Barnes asked if cross country could be included in the proposal; Mr. Stracka responded that the team has a new coach, and it was decided to give time to build on the team. Perhaps cross country could be included at a later date if necessary. He added that there are 23 schools in the state who have entered into this type of agreement; the state requires that these agreements could only be entered into with contiguous school districts, which is why Blue Ridge was chosen as other districts, although also contiguous, are too far away.
And, there would be no changes in next years sports schedule, as those schedules are planned ahead of time, in two-year increments.
Mr. Lisowski said that the main concern is to emphasize safety; if there are too few kids, "theyll get beat up too much. We just want to investigate the possibilities." The boards vote was six in favor, three opposed.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, January 15, 7:30 p.m. in the administration offices.
On December 2, the Great Bend Township meeting, with Chairman Squier, Vice-Chairman Banko, Supervisor Haskins, and Secretary/ Treasurer Sheldon, commenced at 7 p.m.
Cynthia Allen, a local real estate agent representing a Mr. Rychlewski, requested time on the agenda to discuss certain problem that she was having with Michael Fortuner. John Buffomante, another local resident, requested time on the schedule but then removed the above request due to the fact that the issue needed to be brought before the Susquehanna County Planning Commission. With these amendments the agenda was approved.
KBA building inspectors were the next item on the agenda. Liability, cost, and time of inspections were some of the issues discussed with their representative. The cost of inspection, which will add at least $1,000 extra in building cost, was a very key issue. The representative explained the extensive research that each inspector has to do on each and every structure.
Reading and approval of the Treasurers Report brought an outburst from a member of the audience in attendance. This person felt that the township was going too far when it paid the wife of one of the supervisors $.36 a mile to travel to the Sears Department Store in Johnson City to purchase a shop vacuum and wrenches that the township needed to maintain their equipment. The person did not take into consideration the wages, diesel, and wear on equipment that this trip would incur on the township. With this discussed, the report was approved with no corrections.
The Road Masters Report covered plowing on November 18 and 27 and December 1. Reports from these snow removal activities show a promising ability to handle most of what nature has to offer in this department. The report also covered minor repairs and maintenance on sundry equipment.
The Supervisors had to report the loss of $271,000 in grants from the state government, because Great Bend and Hallstead Borough would not sign the necessary paperwork to obtain these grants. Great Bend Township will try to resubmit the papers, with only their township requesting the grant.
Donna Fekettes commercial permit is still an ongoing ordeal. Robert Haley submitted his septic permit to obtain his building permit that was previously issued. Russell Lynch was granted a permit to build a garage at his residence. Tim Burke was issued a permit to construct a garage on his premises.
New information showed that Jim Dalloway installed the sewer system on property now owned by Joan Long, when Stover and Bevens retained ownership of the above said. The sewage complaints at Kenneth Tingleys trailer park and Harmony Village are ongoing issues that will continue until the new Hallstead/ Great Bend/ New Milford Sewage Management System is installed.
Robert and Judith Haley were approved by the Planning Commission to extend an existing driveway. The Denton Crick Sportsmen submitted a new survey map, which allows the required amount of right-of-way, to the Commission.
A letter was read explaining the plan by the Susquehanna County Emergency Management to re-address every residence in the county.
A motion was made and passed to retain Joseph Collura as the auditor for business year 2003.
A letter from DEP concerning storm water management was reviewed. Further research will be made in this area before the township will be able to determine if it must comply with the rules outlined by this memo.
Under unfinished business the Great Bend/ Hallstead boundary line is an issue that is solving itself, ever so slowly.
Code violations against Robert Hornish, Armetta Slocum, and William Dixon are ongoing issues. On December 10 at 10:30 a.m., the case regarding tire removal at Interstate Burlap and Bag will be reviewed. A resolution was passed to borrow $68, 478 from Pennstar Bank to purchase the new backhoe. A tentative fee schedule was reviewed for the open records policy. The budget for the business year 2003 was passed on a provisional basis.
There was no new business to be discussed, and with the inclement weather and the length of the meeting there was a lack of public comment. The meeting was adjourned at 9:55 p.m.
Despite the snowstorm and iffy roads, several more residents than usual showed up at New Milford Boroughs regular Council meeting last Thursday evening.
It was because of the inclement weather that Decembers Good Neighbor Recognition honoree, Senator Lemmond, was unable to attend. Council member Rick Ainey noted that, because of redistricting, Lemmond will no longer represent the Boroughs residents. Council wanted to show its appreciation because Lemmond "was instrumental in getting our sewer project working along with Sandra Major and Congressman McDade, and to get us our funding." Its hoped that Lemmond will be able to attend the Councils January meeting.
Icy roads kept Building Codes Enforcement Officer Shane Lewis from attending as well. Council president Scott Smith read from the reports that Lewis submitted since the groups last meeting. Regarding the decrepit trailer on the Cosmello junkyard property, Lewis noted that the trailer was there for several years before the junkyard and its fence was installed, and Code should have been enforced and the trailer enclosed at that time. Because it wasnt, it is now grandfathered. Lewis report noted that, should the trailer be removed or renovated, a fence would have to be installed at that time.
In other junkyard discussion, Ainey reported that a state agency (he wasnt sure which one) contacted Lewis to find out if there were any open violations of an environmental nature against Cosmellos; Lewis replied that they were not. Beyond this information, Ainey said he had no idea why the agency was on site at the junkyard.
As for the pizza shop where Marchos florist shop used to be, it appears that the location was never registered with Labor and Industry something its thought will need to be done before an occupancy permit can be issued.
A representative of the consulting firm that worked on the Act 537 Plan Revision was at the meeting to explain an unexpected $980 bill Council recently received. The bill was for a Uniform Environment Report, and was not part of the firms original scope of work or included in its proposal. In fact, the consultant added, much of what was included in this Report was already addressed in the Plan Revision. He explained that DEPs Angerson and Rural Utilities Service Ridgick insisted that the Report be done, and that the Plan would not go forward without one. "We could not have done it [the Report]," he stated, "but six months from now, you would have heard that the Plan is not going forward." The Report, he added, is now required on all 537 Plans, and noted that his firm is currently working on one for Scott Township.
While Council was less than thrilled with the new expense, they voted to pay the bill and go forward. Council members then asked the consultant if they would get any more such surprises, and he replied that they would not.
Another resident attended the meeting on behalf of Eleanor Lawrence, who owns 22 acres at the end of Wall Street and wanted to know if Council would consider extending the street so that she can better sell her property. Lawrence would put in and pay for the extension. Smith replied that Council would be amenable, but that she would have to follow State specifications for the road. Because the property is on a steep slope, it was thought it would be a pretty expensive proposition. Nevertheless, Ainey suggested that Lawrence and whoever she works with about extending the road may want to pick up a copy of the State specifications at the Borough office, to give them a better handle on what would be involved in such an endeavor.
Council voted on some nice news for New Milfords youngsters, when it passed a motion to spend up to $700 for a 53 x 110 ice skating rink to be set up over the tennis courts, which have lights for evening skating. At the last meeting, Mayor Joe Taylor brought in some materials about this storable rink, Council member Mary Ann Warren researched it further, and Council acted on their efforts. Taylor indicated that the rink would go up as soon as possible.
And while most residents are thinking about snow removal, Council member Jim Carr was thinking about the paving plan that he developed. When the weather breaks, Carr reported, he plans to come up with an estimate of a per-street paving cost. Carr developed both a five-year and a ten-year paving plan, and realistically thinks that ten years will be required to get the whole town done at which point it will start over again.
In Economic Development, Ainey reported that potential shippers and railroad people will be meeting on December 11 at the Green Gables to "come to some sort of consensus on how to make shipping via the railroad" work from New Milford. Council member Chris Allen said that he spoke with a bluestone operator in the area who is shipping his product up to Canada at a very competitive rate; Allen will encourage the businessman to participate in the meeting.
Among other business, Council adopted the Boroughs 2003 budget, complete with 10 per cent real estate tax cut. It also reappointed George Houghton of New Milford Township to another 5-year seat on the Municipal Authority by a vote of 4-2.
After Jim Carr reported on the progress of the three markers that will welcome visitors to New Milford Borough and Township (work will start in the spring), the meeting was adjourned.
Eric John Gillick, 39, Harford Township, and Jacqueline M. Zymblosky, 40, Harford Township.
Ronald Scott Arneil, Jr., 34, Throop, and Maria Jean Creasy, 24, Susquehanna Borough.
Peter W. Goff, 28, Bridgewater Township, and Clista Renae Towner, 24, Athens.
Richard Giddings and Judith C. Giddings to Terry L. Vangorden and Linda E. Vangorden in Harford Township for $165,000.
Rebecca Shay, Annette Shay, Mary Shay, Terry Vannavongsa, Roberta Driscoll, Rebecca Hill and Samantha Shay to Rebecca Shay in Ararat Township for $1.
Rebecca Shay to Annette Shay, Mary Shay, Terry Vannavongsa, Roberta Driscoll, Rebecca Hill, Samantha Shay and Steven Hine in Ararat Township for $1.
Darwin R. Greene and Paula J. Greene to Carol Cottrell and Arnold Cottrell in Harmony Township for $60,000.
Charles E. Tuttle to Charles E. Tuttle in Clifford Township for $1.
William R. Moody and Mary Ann Moody to David W. Cote in Middletown Township for $50,000.
Anthony Gelormini and Emily Gelormini to Anthony Gelormini and Emily Gelormini in Lenox Township for $1.
Melba E. Evans to Lynne M. Evans-Hernandez in Clifford Township for $1.
Michelle Lee Cosklo nbm Michelle Lee Torrez and Michael Torrez to William J. Privitar and Gail E. Privitar in Forest City Borough for $60,000. Annette L. Zrowka to Annette L. Zrowka in Lenox Township for $1.
Easements given to GPU by: Matthew Miller in Bridgewater Township; Eugene J. McAvoy in Bridgewater Township; Alliance to Protect Life, Inc. in Rush Township; Lawrence Gottlick and Michelle Gottlick in Bridgewater Township;
Raymond E. Whaite and Suzanne Brant to Marilynn A. Hughes in New Milford Township for $85,200.
Barbara A. Kunst and Helmut Kunst to Barbara A. Kunst and Helmut Kunst in Clifford Township for $1.
Raymond F. Gillen, Jr. and Shirley A. Gillen to Robert E. Aiken and Patricia O. Aiken in Montrose Borough for $164,000.
Doctor William L. Carroll and Susan M. Carroll to Francis J. Masley and Donna L. Masley in Herrick Township for $57,000.
Irene Corrigan aka Irene Harris to Irene Harris in Clifford Township for $1.
Irene Corrigan aka Irene Harris to Jakub LeKach in Clifford Township for $81,500.
Peter S. Whitby to Stanley W. Ezman and Sandra Ezman in Ararat Township for $21,000.
Byron D. Lesjack and Kristian B. Lesjack to Byron D. Lesjack in Hallstead Borough for $1.
Byron D. Lesjack and Carol L. Lesjack to Thomas J. Macleod in Hallstead Borough for $60,500.
Byron D. Lesjack and Carol J. Lesjack to Peter R. Conigliaro in Hallstead Borough for $6,250.
Patrick K. Kipar to Gerry N. Wing and Barbara A. Aldrich Wing in Auburn Township for $135,000.
Susanne Paulu to Michael S. Canfield and Mindy Horn in Gibson Township for $87,000.
Reese P. Barnum and Karin A. Barnum to Walter H. A. Master and Lillian E. Master in Auburn Township for $72,000.
The Estate of Edith M. Rozell by Charles E. Rozell, Executor to Charles E. Rozell and Bessie A. Rozell in Brooklyn Township for $1 aogavc.
George W. Stock to George W. Stock in the Borough of Uniondale, Herrick Township and Clifford Township for $1.
George W. Stock to George W. Stock in the Borough of Uniondale and Herrick Township for $1.
Helmuth A. Keller and Gisela L. Keller to Barry H. Keller and Debra J. Keller in Herrick Township for $1 (two parcels).
Timothy M. Burgh and Connie M. Burgh to J. Parker Properties, LLC in Bridgewater Township for $40,000.
Donald T. Nicholson and Angela A. Nicholson to Bruce Wheaton and Marie Wheaton in Hallstead Borough for $65,200.
Sandra J. Price, former Trustee of the Colonial Land Trust by and through Reese A. Price, Successor Trustee of the Colonial Land Trust to Colonial Land Trust in Lenox Township for $1.
Paul Kovach and Michele Kovach to Gail Croft in Little Meadows Borough for $21,000.
Jade Brewer and Debra A. Brewer to Kyle Printz and Peggy Sue Printz in Montrose Borough for $68,000.
Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to EMC Mortgage Corporation in Susquehanna Borough for $1,818.92.
Michael D. Neveglis to Edward J. Kovacs, Jr. and Dawn F. Kovacs in Liberty Township for $35,000.
James H. Jump and Jodi Jump to Jodi Jump in Hallstead Borough for $1.
Herman R. Appleman and Sandra F. Appleman to Herman R. Appleman and Sandra F. Appleman, Trustees under the Herman R. Appleman and Sandra F. Appleman Revocable Trust Agreement in Harford Township for $1 (two parcels).
On November 26, on Interstate 81 near exit 219 in New Milford Township, Keith Bovier, Binghamton, NY, was slowing down due to a car pulling directly into his path. His tractor trailer was then struck by another tractor trailer, driven by Larry Fitch, Omelee, ONT, which was traveling behind Bovier.
Sheri Miles, Montrose, received minor injuries on November 27 at about 7:45 a.m. when she lost control of her 1996 Chevy pickup truck as she was traveling on State Route 29, Dimock Township.
Someone cut the outside phone line at the residence of Sharon Gillingham, Brookside Trailer Park, Apolacon Township, on November 29 between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m. Anyone with information is asked to call the Gibson barracks at 570-465-3154.
Phillip Oleniacz, Montrose, lost control of his 1990 Mazda resulting in his vehicle traveling off of State Route 29, Brookdale. The vehicle struck several trees. The incident occurred on October 27.
A white male pumped five dollars worth of gasoline at Pump & Pantry, State Route 11, New Milford Borough, on November 27 between 9:10 and 9:20 a.m., then drove away without paying for it. He was driving a red Chevy car. Any information? Please contact the Gibson State Police at 570-465-3154.
Joseph M. Skrutski, Olyphant, parked his vehicle at the Lift Inn, State Route 374, Lenox Township, and while inside, someone ripped off the rear spoiler that was on his vehicle. Anyone with information on this November 16-17 incident, please contact the PA State Police at Gibson at 570-465-3154. The incident occurred between 9:30 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.
THEFT OF MAIL/FORGERY
During October and November mail was removed from roadside mailboxes. Subsequently, checks were altered and cashed at local financial institutions. Anyone receiving notice that any checks have been altered/forged or cashed in amounts that differ from that which they were intended is urged to investigate the irregularity with their bank and report any verified criminal acts to the PA State Police at Gibson at 570-465-3154. Brian Cook, 37, York, is listed as the accused on the police report. The incidents occurred in the Montrose area.
About $2000 worth of items were stolen from Marjorie Parry-Barney, State Route 106, Clifford Township. Taken on November 25 were: DVD player, television, playstation, various DVDs and Sony games. Anyone with information is asked to contact the State Police at Gibson at 570-465-3154.
Someone smashed the passenger side window of a Dodge Caravan belonging to Leopold Calcavecchia, Hallstead, while it was at the Forest Lake Inn parking Lot, Route 267, Friendsville. A battery jumper and torches, belonging to Michael Holmes, Montrose, were taken from the same vehicle. Anyone with information on this November 23-24 incident is asked to contact the police at 570-465-3154.
At its last meeting, in November, the Blue Ridge School Board heard from the parents of a June, 2002 graduate whose picture was missing from the recently published yearbook. It was an emotionally intense exchange that left a resolution undetermined. Now it appears that at least three pictures were left out of the book, leaving the administration wringing its hands for a way to fix the problem and satisfy unhappy graduates and their families.
Like last month, the yearbook issue was the focus of the Board meeting on December 3, even though it wasn't brought up until the very end. The meeting, the last until January 13, covered a routine business agenda, and included the annual "reorganization." In this case it was a reorganization that wasn't, since the recent election didn't affect any sitting members, and the incumbent President and Vice President, Alan Hall and Priscinda Gaughan, respectively, were reseated by their colleagues, with applause.
Last month Board members chided the administration for purchasing without Board approval a textbook for the new technology curriculum. The item was placed on December's agenda, but High School Principal Michael Thornton got a stern look from his boss, Superintendent Robert McNamara, when he had to admit that he forgot to bring the book to the meeting. The item was tabled for a month on a voice vote.
With considerable relief, the Board gave final approval to the report of the independent auditor on the District's books. Members got a quick briefing on the report by Michael Dougherty at the meeting in November. The report was a glowing tribute to the District's efforts over the past couple of years to strengthen its financial underpinnings.
The Board also approved two relatively minor changes to its policy manual to keep the District in compliance with recent legislative and regulatory changes. One of the amendments, outlines in detail the availability of the District's "public records." Recent changes in state law require all municipal governmental bodies to publish procedures describing how citizens can gain access to their public records.
Rick Ainey, representing the Little League Association, appeared at the meeting to support a request for $500 to help erect lights at the "little" ballfield in Hallstead. He said the project is expected to cost about $24,000, of which about $10,000 is already pledged or in hand. He said that he hoped the school would chip in because the District has used the field for many years, yet has never contributed to its upkeep. He asked that Blue Ridge become a "partner" with the Little League for the support of the athletic fields that are available to everyone including the only girls' softball team from Blue Ridge to make the state championship. He didn't need many more arguments for his case. The Board readily quadrupled his request, to $2,000, on its own initiative. Board President Alan Hall said that the money wasn't in the budget, but, "will it break us? No." Mr. Hall himself, active for many years with the Little League, abstained from the final vote after admitting sheepishly that he is responsible for the design of a collection of flags to be placed at the field to recognize major donors.
Among individual reports was one from Patrick Manchester, as co-President of the Student Council the first student representative to appear at a Board meeting in at least two years. A well-spoken and articulate young man, Mr. Manchester listed the accomplishments of the student body since the beginning of the school year, focusing attention on events that raised over $1,200 and cartons of food, all for local charities.
Mr. McNamara presented Board President Hall with a pin for superior "boardsmanship" from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. Mr. McNamara also reported that the county Farm Bureau has requested that milk be available in vending machines in all county schools.
When asked about a recent report of possible cooperation between Susquehanna Community and Blue Ridge on a football program, Mr. Hall called it mostly "rumor," saying that no real plans have been developed.
It was at the very end of the formal meeting that Mr. Hall recognized the mother of another of last year's graduates whose picture was omitted from the yearbook. Mr. Hall immediately apologized for the problem, noting that more were missing than originally thought, and that there was as yet no decision on what to do about it. A "sticker" with one missing picture has been ordered from the publisher. According to Mr. McNamara, when that is delivered, all affected families will be invited to review it as a possible remedy.
High School Principal Michael Thornton also apologized for what was characterized as his inappropriately brusque response on a first telephone call about the missing picture. Mr. Thornton reported that there were 99 senior pictures in the yearbook, out of 114 eligible. He said that for a variety of reasons, some students elect not to have themselves represented in the yearbook, but that three who should have been in the book were left out because of an error by the photography studio, Craige's, of Montrose. (He noted that the yearbook commonly includes students who didn't manage to graduate.) He was directed by Mr. Hall to contact all 12 of the remaining families to determine their original intentions, and to verify that the three known omissions are the only ones. He said that the publisher told him that reprinting the pages with the missing photos in place would be very expensive. He was asked to determine the cost to reprint a small number of corrected books. (Mr. Thornton also reported that a new publisher has been selected for next year, for reasons of cost.)
Some Board members questioned why anyone would want to be left out of the yearbook. Perhaps the contracted photographer's package was too expensive? They were told that no one is obliged to use the contract photographer, but that the contractor in this case, Craige's might have to reformat photographs from other sources to fit yearbook requirements. Senior yearbook pictures are handled differently from other class pictures, taken at the school each year.
In conclusion, Mr. Hall told the parents, "We'll do what we can to make it right."
The Board approved its schedule of meetings for 2003, which will normally be on the second and fourth Mondays of each month, at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria in the Elementary School.
Elk Lake School Board's reorganization meeting on December 2 put Arden Tewksbury back in as President. Tewksbury had been President before Chuck Place took his spot. Place was nominated, but refused another term. Eric Emmerich will serve as Vice President.
Margaret Caines was approved for a position as third grade teacher, with Chuck Place giving the only dissenting vote. One of the other contenders for the spot contested Caines' appointment, saying Caines' had only substituted at the school for a few weeks, while she, Sharon Watkins, had been subbing for five years. She asked what the procedure was for filling the position. Bush described the process, including the interviewing that is used to select people.
Caines then asked if Superintendent Bush had ever observed substitutes prior to hiring. Bush indicated he did not, to which Watkins said that there "must be something wrong...something more to it." She recommended that substitutes be observed in the future.
Over $1.8 million will be invested in a 12-month Certificate of Deposit. Approval was given to invest the money in the bank with the highest rate on Wednesday, December 4, since some banks' interest rates were changing the day following the board meeting. If two banks came in with identical rates, an alphabetical approach would be taken.
High School Principal Ken Cuomo gave a report on the 10,158 items collected for the food bank, with a high degree of competition among juniors and seniors. He indicated that the juniors excelled in quantity but the seniors did better on quality of items, suggesting that they would put some restriction on items for the next collection. Cuomo also said that the school exceeded every other school district in the county during the food bank drive.
Board meeting dates for 2003 will not be consistent, such as the third Monday. The dates which will be advertised for next year's meetings include January 13, February 10, March 24, April 29, May 13, June 16, July 14, August 11 and 25, September 22, October 20, November 17, and December 1. Any additional meetings will need separate advertising, although meetings can be canceled without public notice.
Rosalind Hibbard is resigning as tax collector as of the end of the calendar year. The district will wait until the county and township have appointed someone, so that they will all have the same person. Susan Rothwell has asked for an additional paid leave, which was granted for 25 extra days (with Marshall voting against it), but her request for a ½ time sabbatical leave for the rest of the school year was not granted. Bush said that she doesn't quality under the guidelines, so no motion was made to grant the request.
At the Career & Technology Center, Director Alice Davis said that the VICA competition will be on December 6, with a snow day of December 9. She expects about 300 students to participate with 25 from the local Center.
Davis also reported that the old building has been taken down, trees cut, and land cleared for the new shop area. She indicated that excavation work needs to be done next in preparation for building in the spring. Drains from the building should be done so that if the building's use is changed, it will be able to accept water into the building. Davis indicated she's been told it would be inexpensive and easier to do while the new building is being erected than at a later date.
The cold war that has split the Forest City Regional Board of Education for the first time in recent memory surfaced at the boards reorganization meeting last week. There were no outbursts or temper tantrums but the tension in the meeting room could have been carved like a Thanksgiving turkey.
When the ice melted, Dr. Joseph Lucchesi was elected to succeed Fred Garm as board president by a 4-3 vote. Director James Kilker was also nominated for president and received three votes in a losing cause. Dr. Lucchesi abstained from voting and Mr. Kilker was absent from the meeting.
Director Tom Baileys was a unanimous choice for vice president as the board returned to its customary display of unanimity and went on to dispose of a light agenda without incident.
Dr. Lucchesi served as board president three years ago. By tradition the board usually rotates the presidents position allowing every director a chance to be top dog. The only board president to ever succeed himself was Robert Trusky who guided the district through a multi-million-dollar expansion program.
Mr. Trusky supported Dr. Lucchesis nomination for president as did Directors Baileys, Garm and Joseph Farrell. Mr. Kilkers support came from Directors Henry Nebzydoski, Tom Heller and Ken Goben.
During the meeting, none of the directors mentioned a word about the obvious split on the board. Approached after the meeting, Mr. Trusky said the board is "very politically lined."
"I think we need more balance," said Mr. Trusky. "I am unhappy with the direction the board is going."
In another matter, Karen Forsette, district business manager, advised the board that the state Department of Education has withheld the $10,000 the district owes to the new charter school in nearby Fell Township.
"They took it from us and will give it to the charter school," Mrs. Forsette said. On at least two occasions, the board voted not to pay the charter school, viewing the payment as another unfounded mandate dumped on school districts.
Mrs. Forsette also said that the district must pay $5,000 to the Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School. A vote on the motion to pay it passed by a 5-2 margin with Directors Trusky and Baileys opposing the motion. Director Nebzydoski noted that if the board did not pay it, the state would just decrease the districts appropriation by the amount owed and forward it to the PVCS.
Motions passed by the board completed the following business:
-The appointment of Patricia Beynon as administrative assistant to the business manager at a salary of $24,000 effective Dec. 16. Ms. Beynon replaces Dawn Peterka who resigned.
-The appointment of Carla Stackhouse as alternative education teacher retroactive to Oct. 29 at a hourly rate of $17.50. Ms. Stackhouse will work three hours a day.
-Approved retroactive payment for extracurricular positions to Nancy Brown, Mary Jane Hoffmann, Christine Toraldo and Bernadette Twilley.
-Approved elementary boys and girls basketball programs for grades 2, 3 and 4.
-Accepted the resignation of Brian P. Iungerman, a part-time cafeteria worker.
-Appointed Mary Lee Martines as a part-time teacher assistant in the kindergarten program retroactive to Nov. 25. She will be paid $6.90 an hour.
-Appointed Geraldine Swierczek as part-time library assistant in the high school retroactive to Nov. 12 at a rate of $6.90 an hour.
-Set the regular monthly board meetings for the second Monday of each month except for next December when the meeting will be held Tuesday, Dec. 2. And agreed to have work sessions on the first Monday of each month except May, July and December.
The districts school principals reported a total student population of 928, including 473 in grade school and 455 in high school.
At the Hop Bottom Borough monthly meeting on Tuesday, December 3, many items were covered on the agenda. The Police Report was given by Mayor Paul Henry. Among the items reported were 8 traffic citations, 1 disorderly conduct, 5 alluding police office (4 auto and 1 quad) and 2 missing persons. The police car instruments were recently calibrated, as they are every two months.
Lenox Township supervisors notified Janice Webster, President of the Hop Bottom Borough Council, they are sending approximately $1400 toward the culvert work. An agreement from them is in the mail.
Regarding Martens Creek, the Borough is meeting with others to complete bylaws for a watershed association. The next meeting for this project is planned for January 2003, no date was announced.
Once again, that old chestnut of what to do with a new or refurbished borough hall came up. Eric Lynn announced he only made the motion to purchase the Stout property in order for the Borough to get going with how it will deal with this property in the future. It appears that the house on the property will be demolished, the garage on it may be upgraded for the Hop Bottom Borough Police Department to house its car and for a small office. There was much talk of inside refurbishing and reconstruction of the current facility on Forest Street. Some contractors will be contacted regarding that matter. The street may also be widened and may be made a one-way. In the interim the Hop Bottom Hose Companys fire hall is still being looked upon favorably. However, the council appears to genuinely want to keep the subject alive as they look at grants and the bulk of the matter has been referred for action to the January meeting.
PENNDOT will be contacted again regarding grates on Forest Street. The Borough will be entering the AGILITY Program in January to work with PENNDOT on other work that needs to be done in the Borough. Regarding roads, Gary Sanauskas submitted the bid accepted by the Borough for road clean-up because of inclement weather. The council agreed to let him order a load of cinders along with the load that will service the Borough. He will pay for the load he wishes to acquire.
The Boroughs five year plan was heavily impacted upon by plans for the municipal building. It also indicated a Street Committee will be formed to look at various problems in the Borough; current house numbers in the Borough may have to be made more uniform in order to comply with 911 regulations. In addition, the plan will look at beautification projects for the Borough and grants may be sought for low-income home repairs.
The Boroughs Emergency Management plan is now in another state of revision, for completion to be in compliance with new mandates. Henry will speak with the fire company regarding their part in the plan.
There will be no reorganization of Hop Bottom Council, as it appears that compliance is only mandated every two years. The Borough will meet on January 2 for a grant meeting and on January 7 for a regular monthly meeting. DGK, the insurance firm that carries the Boroughs policy is expected at the January 7 meeting.
Joanne Wisniewski was complimented for coordinating the annual Christmas tree lighting celebration and getting together deserts and hot beverages at the Fire Hall.
The next regular meeting of the Borough is scheduled for Tuesday, January 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the municipal meeting on Forest Street.
The day before the Montrose Area School Board met for its annual reorganization and regular monthly meeting on December 6, Susquehanna County Court of Common Pleas president judge Kenneth Seamans reversed an arbitration panels decision, which the District appealed, that ordered the District to reinstate Lathrop Street teacher Ferdinand Bistocchi. Bistocchi was fired more than a year ago for accessing and viewing sexually explicit material on a school computer. And while Bistocchis lawyer, representing Bistocchi on behalf of the teachers union, will appeal the judges ruling to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, the subject never came up at the Boards meeting last Friday night.
Instead, the group focused on the business at hand. This included reelecting Ken Gould as president of the Districts board of directors for 2003, and Celeste Ridler as its vice president, and recognizing and congratulating senior Matthew Fearnley as the Districts $40,000, four-year McKelvey Scholarship winner. The McKelvey Scholarship Fund was established by the founder of Monster.com to identify and help young people across the rural areas of the state realize their drive and potential. Fearnley was chosen after a rigorous selection process, both within the District and by the McKelvey organization.
Addressing the Board, Fearnley said he has narrowed his choice of college to Lock Haven or Bucknell, and planned on becoming a secondary education math teacher, hopefully at Montrose Area. He expressed how pleased he was with the education he has received, start to finish, from District schools and educators, as well as his pride in being a Montrose Meteor.
Jonathan Loiselle, an associate with Highland Associates which is conducting the Districts needs-assessment study, was on hand to report on its progress. The latest installation of the study, which has been continually revised as information and research becomes available, addressed District demographics now and projected out five and ten years, building evaluation revisions that respond to both demographics as well as educational initiatives, and conceptual construction options. Highlands final report is expected in January, after which it is up to the District to decide how and whether to proceed on Highlands options, depending on needs and budget.
As part of Highlands information-gathering, it met with student council and faculty as well as members of the community. Loiselle requested meeting with these groups again in January to go over Highlands final report and recommendations with them, and the Board agreed. Gould requested that the final report be made available on the Districts website via viewable pdf files, and that will be done. The report is also available to the public in the library at the Junior-Senior High School.
The preliminary building evaluations findings addressed certain "baseline" needs, described by Loiselle as "things that need to be taken care of" such as meeting certain American with Disabilities Act requirements and which the District should act upon within the next five years at each of the three schools. These needs include Information Technology. Highland estimates the cost of fulfilling these needs at $3 million for all three schools.
Loiselle then moved on to construction options that respond to outlined goals of all-day kindergarten, separating 7th and 8th graders from the 9th through 12th grades, improving the building and grounds facilities as well as public access to District administration, increasing the seating capacity in the high school gym, and addressing heating and cooling issues in the high school. Board members received illustrations that color-coded any additions or renovations to each of the three buildings that would be required if it chose to go forward with any of the options.
The first option is to maintain the status quo and the buildings as they are now. Adding all-day kindergarten is estimated to require the addition of 5,500 square feet and renovations of 3,600 square feet at Choconut, and 10,000 square feet of addition and 4,000 square feet of renovation at Lathrop Street. Lathrop Street recommendations also include improving the way school buses currently circulate the area to make it safer. Gould asked how Lathrops parking situation could be improved, and Highland will follow up on that with Lathrop principal Greg Adams.
As for the High School, a new addition is recommended if a decision is made to proceed with creating a separate 7th and 8th grade. Under this option, District administration offices and the library would be relocated to make public access easier and more direct, as well as increasing security by eliminating the need for the public to walk throughout the building to access them, as they do now. Because the addition/renovation option would centralize the building rather than continue to elongate it, parking areas would need to be shifted and the baseball field relocated. A separate 7th and 8th grade would have its own entrance, classrooms, computer labs, science labs, and satellite cafeteria (with no new kitchen facilities; meals would come from the high school main cafeteria). Another option includes integrating 6th grade on the high school campus.
Estimated costs for each of these options will be presented in January, when the completed study will be submitted to the District. When the final report is completed, a special public meeting will be held in January to discuss it.
In other business, District Superintendent Mike Ognosky reported that bus routes that transport parochial school students to New Yorks Southern Tier have been reworked, for a savings of close to $45,000 in transportation costs. As part of this, the Board approved a transportation contract to Ivan and Tammy Payne for the parochial and kindergarten run at a daily rate of $222.37 starting January 2.
It also acted on the following: accepted a bid of $1,505 (the highest of four received) from Endless Mountain Air for the Districts used dump truck; reassigned coaching positions that make Robert Black freshman boys basketball coach at a salary of $1,550 for the 2002-2003 season from junior high assistant boys basketball coach, and Edward Goldsmith to junior high head boys basketball coach at $1,300 from freshman boys basketball coach; and to appoint Joseph Gilhool junior high assistant boys basketball coach at $960.
The following resignations were accepted: Joseph Galati as science teacher at the high school, Sally Johnson as part-time food service worker at the high school, Katy Spickerman as high school night custodian, and Marcha Crisman as cook at the high school. The Board approved the hiring of Mary Bishop as part-time food service worker at the high school at $6.50 per hour with nor fringe benefits; Shannon Saurina as support staff substitute; Lisa Frey as part-time personal care aide at Choconut at $6.50 an hour with no fringe benefits; and Michelle Hawley as a long-term substitute teacher at Lathrop Street and Choconut Valley Elementary Schools at $142.47 a day from November 22 to April 23. The Board also voted to increase the daily rate of pay for substitute Registered or Certified School Nurses to the same as that of current substitute teachers, whose starting rate of $80 a day.
The next regular meeting of the Montrose Area School District Board of Directors is scheduled for January 17, 6:30 p.m. at the Choconut Valley Elementary School.
All members of the Board were present at the Mountain View School Board reorganization meeting on Monday evening, December 4, with the exception of John Halupke. In the absence of Carolyn Price, the Board Secretary, Ronald D. Phillips sat as Secretary Pro Tem.
Mr. Ordie E. Price, Board President, announced the meeting was called for the purpose of reorganization under appropriate sections of Article IV of the School Laws of Pennsylvania as amended. Members of the Board held over are Bryce E. Beeman, John L. Beeman, Kevin Griffiths, John Halupke, Ronald D. Phillips, Ordie E. Price, Thomas E. Salansky, Sandra Stine and James W. Zick. Sandra Stine acted as temporary President in order for nominations for executive seats to be carried forward.
There was close balloting for the President's seat. James W. Zick was elected for that position outdistancing Ordie Price. Ordie Price was, however, elected First Vice President and Kevin Griffiths is filling the Second Vice President seat.
Time and place of the regular scheduled public meetings for the upcoming year will take place at 8:00 p.m. in the Elementary School Board Room. Dates will be as follows: January 13 and 27, February 10 and 24, March 10 and 24, April 14 and 28, May 12 and 19, June 9 and 23, July 14 and 28, August 11 and 25, September 8 and 22, October 13 and 27, November 10 and 24 and December 1 and 15, 2003.
The appointment of Standing Committees will be decided at the next public board meeting to be held on December 9, in the Mountain View Elementary School board room at 8:00 p.m. The public is invited.
At a truncated special meeting last month, some members of the Great Bend Borough Council tentatively agreed on an expense budget for 2003 that matches the budget for the current year, but with only a couple of minor internal changes. It was to be expected that Council would formally adopt a budget at its December meeting. But when they gathered on the 5th the budget wasn't even on the agenda. Asked about the omission, Borough Secretary Mary Jean Fleming said that they are still awaiting "figures" from Montrose, presumably estimated tax receipts that the borough would use as the basis of the income side of the budget. Most other municipalities construct a budget based on current year figures and historical trends.
With the recent early winter weather, a favorite topic was snow removal. The borough's maintenance employee, Alan Grannis, attended the meeting to report that the stock of cinders is being drawn down a little early this year. Among the customary four or five simultaneous conversations that go on around the table in these meetings, there was a discussion of how cinders are applied where individual homeowners have requested that cinders NOT be spread in front of their houses. Is the borough liable if it does or does not attempt to provide safe driving conditions? It was also noted that the borough has an ordinance that requires sidewalks to be cleared within 24 hours; but it was likewise noted that there is no one to enforce the rule.
Council member Rick Franks presented a check for $1,000 from the proceeds of the Timmy Fancher Memorial Race. The foot race is held annually through Great Bend and Hallstead to honor the memory of a young man killed in Hallstead several years ago. Council tentatively agreed to apply the money to the parks funds. They also agreed to come up with a design for a plaque or other memorial to Timmy Fancher, possibly to be placed in Greenwood Park, where some of the race events are held and near the site of the original Fancher homestead.
The meeting closed when Borough solicitor Frank O'Connor asked to be congratulated for completing 25 years of service to the Borough.
The Great Bend Borough Council meets on the 1st Thursday of each month, at 7:00 p.m., at the Borough Building at Franklin and Elizabeth Streets.
The Susquehanna County Historical Society and Free Library Association has run out of space for books at the main library in Montrose, for the programs it runs there, for Internet/computer access by users. Sue Stone, an Association representative, made a presentation to the Montrose Area School District Board of Directors at its work session last Friday night to ask if the District would consider selling 3 acres or so of its land to accommodate a new library building. (The Historical Society would take over the entire current building, should a new library get built.)
Stone reported that the state library association recommends that a library facilitys size reflect one square foot per foot per County resident, which would bring such a facility in Susquehanna County to 42,000 square feet (including a good-sized meeting room for general use by the public), with three acres to accommodate the facility and parking. With two satellite libraries in Hallstead/Great Bend and Susquehanna, the Association is talking less than 42,000 square feet, but considerably more than its current cramped space.
Thus, the Association is talking about a new building, and has been awarded a grant to conduct a feasibility study of doing that. Consulting groups the Association has spoken with about conducting the study all expressed the need to have a site in mind before proceeding with the study.
"We would like to stay in town and on a major road for visibility," said Stone, which is why she was at the meeting that night. "We would like three acres from you," she said. Stone also noted that the Library is open 66 hours a week, and would be close to MASD high school students "a win-win situation for both sides."
While no promises were made, the Board was amenable to seeing how the District could accommodate the Librarys request, while also taking into account any land-use options contained in the final report of the needs-assessment study currently being conducted by Highland Associates on behalf of the District. It expected to have this information by February, and the Association contingent in the audience was pleased with the Boards response.
Both Board president Ken Gould and a member of the audience took Stones presentation as an opportunity to ask whether the Association has ever looked into opening a satellite office in the Choconut/Friendsville area. Many residents of that area use the Vestal, NY library because it is more easily accessible than the one in Montrose. The audience member, who grew up in the Choconut area, said a branch there would be closer for people and students to access for homework and research.
Stone replied that the Association has not, to date, considered a satellite there and acknowledged that it didnt serve that area very well. But she reminded the audience that Vestal charges for a library card while the Association does not, and said she would pass along their comments to other Association administrators.
The work session included discussion of the current practice of assigning Board members to open-to-the-public Committees that make certain decisions on behalf of the Board (with the exception of the compensation committee, which is not open to the public and whose decisions require a full Board vote), versus eliminating Committees entirely and having the full Board vote on all decisions. The consensus was to continue with the current system; Board members who do not sit on certain committees were encouraged to attend its sessions, as are members of the public. Committee meeting dates and times are posted on the District website.
Considerable time focused on the results of a very successful Student Council-Board of Directors meeting held a couple of weeks ago. Students brought up several suggestions and concerns, and the Board promised to get back to them with some responses by the middle of next month.
The first of these was the dress code, which high school assistant principal Sweeney said needed to be looked at again in its entirety. Principal Wilcox thought input from Student Council members should be welcomed, and Gould suggested that other representatives of the student body be included in the student-input group as well. Superintendent Mike Ognosky thought that a group of 10-20 students representative of the entire student body could provide good feedback. "Wed have to let them [the students] know that this would take more than a month or so," he said, adding that the Board would also get a more representative response. He added that the Districts goal regarding the dress code was to change the focus of what students cant wear, to what they can, and to make it more practical.
Changes to the bell schedule, which signals the end of class, also came up. Students requested a bit more time to change classes. They also suggested starting school one hour later.
The Board grappled with some of the logistics of meeting student requests. For instance, different bells and bell schedules for 7th and 8th graders versus the high schoolers would mean a lot of bells and disruptions for classes in progress. Starting school an hour later and still meeting the State-required hours would lead to problems with carefully orchestrated transportation routes. Adding more time for changing classes takes time away from class periods, and adding more course offerings becomes more difficult if there is less class- period time. However, Gould thought that doing away with outdated course offerings would make room for new courses.
Ognosky thought scheduling a club/activity period every two weeks was an important issue to address, and will work with administrators and faculty to see how that could be accomplished. It would probably require taking some time off class periods to free up the time. Students who dont participate in a club/activity could use the time to have increased access to teachers, the library, or other uses. He also thought that something could be worked out that would increase the class-changing time for the next school year.
Other issues brought up by students and summarized by Ognosky included their request that advanced placement courses be weighted 6 per cent and honors classes weighted 3 per cent. Ognosky reported that, currently, advanced placement courses are in fact weighted 6 per cent, but no weighting is applied to honors courses, which have higher expectations from participants in these college prep-type courses.
The word-processing elective "is driving students crazy," said Ognosky. What made sense a few years ago when the use of computers and technology was not so prevalent among students, is now almost outdated because more students are using computers and at earlier ages than five years ago. Both Wilcox and Ognosky thought expanding this elective beyond basic word processing made sense, still retaining the basic elective course material for students who may not have access to a computer at home and are new to its use. "Expanding this half-year elective allows students to choose more where their interest lies, and where they want to go with it," Ognosky said.
He added that administrators and faculty would research how to add new electives and what they would be. Some mentioned by students are photography, forensics, sign language and Latin (the last of which Ognosky said hes been trying for years to find a Latin-certified person).
Gould then asked about the grading system currently used by the high school. Interest was shown by students in converting from the current numerical system to a 4.0 system used by colleges. Under the current system, a 92 and above translates into an A, and a grade of below 68 translates to a failure. Ognosky reported that different schools use different systems, with some setting failure at below 65 or 60, and an A at 90. Converting to a 4.0, collegiate system could, in fact, work to the detriment of District students, not so much in getting into college, he said, but in getting scholarship money. Thats because the 92/A would translate to a 3.5 at MASD, and a 90/B into a 3.25. Schools whose A is a 90 (rather than a 92) would also see a 3.5 collegiate-type grade, and not 3.25.
For his part, Ognosky said he prefers the Districts numerical system. "It shows students exactly where they are, and parents can understand it," he said, while at the same time acknowledging student councils request for a 4.0 system.
Board member Chris Caterson, with member Shawn Brown agreeing, questioned whether teachers and staff wouldnt adapt to a 4.0 system or if they discussed it. Both, however, deferred to Ognoskys judgment. Board member Linda LaBarbera thought that it might give a MASD student a leg up if the District treated its 90 like other districts 90.
Ognosky responded that by doing so, "youve lowered your expectations. Even though we can adapt a 4.0 system anyway we want to, it still doesnt change that below-68 failing grade. If you lower it to 60, youre lowering your expectations by telling kids that they will pass by learning 60 per cent of whats taught."
Nevertheless, Ognosky with work with Wilcox, Sweeney and other administrators to research how to enhance students chances at scholarship money without compromising the Districts higher lever of expectations when it comes to an A grade and Failure grade.
Student Council also suggested some aesthetic changes to the facility and grounds that would beautify them and add to school spirit. Rick Klapper will work with administrators on seeing what can be done. Wilcox reported that students, working with Mrs. Regan, have already started on some things and suggested that, going forward, students with ideas and students with a flair for art get together to provide input to the Board.
One thing that the Board responded to right away was to allow students to drink juice or water in classrooms. The only stipulation is that these beverages cannot be brought into the school, but purchased from the vending machines or in the cafeteria at the school. Should this privilege be abused by students, the Board will rethink its decision, but for now, Wilcox will inform the faculty that the Board wants to try it.
The next work session of the Montrose Area School District Board of Directors is scheduled for January 17 at Choconut Valley Elementary School, immediately following the 6:30 p.m. Board meeting.
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