Marion Center HS 001.jpg

Stock news photos. Marion Center High School.

The Marion Center Area School Board had a night full of filling new positions at its meeting on Monday. Hires included new teachers, a district physician and numerous coaching and athletic positions for the upcoming school year.

The hires were as follows:

  • Michele Kelly in a special education position at a salary of $57,266
  • Dr. Julie DeRosa to serve as the district’s school physician at a retainer of $2,500
  • Donald Seanor to be assistant athletic director at a salary of $6,100
  • Maria Kokolis as a special education teacher at a salary of $50,399
  • Kacey Raible as a special education teacher at a salary $50,399
  • Paige McCombie as an elementary teacher at a salary of $58,266
  • Breanne Lockhart as an elementary teacher at a salary of $59,916
  • Emily Hayes as an elementary teacher at a salary of $58,066
  • Melanie Hafera as an English teacher at a salary of $51,635
  • Julie Prutznal as an English teacher at a salary of $68,646
  • John Hardesty as a social studies teacher at a salary of $64,216
  • Paul Hafera as a social studies teacher at a salary of $58,066
  • Sean Jackson as an
  • elementary guidance counselor at a salary of $51,635 using ESSER II grant funds
  • Kara Kutsch as a general science teacher at a salary of $49,999
  • Gino Colella as a biology teacher at a salary of $49,999
  • Mike Pacconi as head baseball coach at a salary of $3,300
  • Brian Neal as assistant baseball coach at a salary of $2,550
  • Ed Peterson as head softball coach at at salary of $4,000
  • Melissa Buterbaugh as assistant softball coach at a salary of $3,430
  • Chris Peters as head track and field coach at a salary of $5,350
  • Nicole Dann Payne as assistant track and field coach at a salary of $3,050
  • Desiree Fuqua as assistant track and field coach at a salary of $2,900
  • Luke Sitosky as assistant track and field coach at a salary of $2,950
  • Brad Smith as junior high track and field head coach at a salary of $2,500
  • Paul DeHaven as junior high track and field assistant coach at a salary of $2,200
  • Greg Pack as junior high assistant volleyball coach at a salary of $3,250
  • Nick Pinizzoto as assistant varsity football coach at a salary of $3,850
  • Don Fulmer as assistant junior high football coach at a salary of $3,400
  • Karen Short as assistant marching band director at a salary of $2,475, pending updated clearances.

In other personnel matters, the district also accepted, with regret, the retirements of: social studies teacher Deborah Lydick, after 24.5 years of service at the end of the 2020-21 school year; Pre-K IA Kara Fleming, effective July 26; biology teacher Joan Wilden, effective Aug. 23; junior high assistant volleyball coach Denise Fetsko; and assistant varsity football coach Brodey Thompson.

Also added were volunteers Jaci and Don Yeomans, Amanda Marshall, Andrew Adams, John and Sandy Gandolfi, Erin Boring and Lauren Makara, pending clearances.

During the public comment section of the meeting, the board heard from several concerned members of the community regarding the wearing of masks in the coming school year. All expressed that they believed that masks should be optional and not required of students within the district.

As of last month’s meeting, that had been the plan moving forward for the district and as of Monday night, remains the plan currently in place, barring any updates from the state or federal levels.

“To that end, we appreciate you folks attending,” board President Gregg Sacco said. “It’s something that’s been a part of our discussions for awhile now. None of the board members have supported requirements, things that have been cast down upon us. Everything that we have in our safety plan is unto higher authority mandating us to do things, not us mandating us to do things. I think what’s important about that is that we’d be glad to join you in your efforts to go to the state and federal levels where they are more responsible and able to make these types of decisions, apparently, on our free choice ... this isn’t our decision. We’re kind of forced into going with what is decided for us. We need parents like yourselves to go to the state and federal people, our representatives at that level, and get things done.”

Superintendent Clint Weimer spoke up and said that, as a superintendent, he must follow and uphold the rules set forth by the commonwealth. Included in those rules is the wearing of masks on public transportation. School buses fall under that category. So, while masks are currently set to be optional for the school, they will be required on buses.

“That is an order, that is a law from CDC,” Weimer said. “I have to bring that back and tell the board that we have to follow this. If I do not do that, if I don’t disclose or deliver that information to the body here ... I am arrested, I lose my commission, I did not do what I was supposed to do as a superintendent of a school district. So we as a school district, if five members of this board vote not to follow that order ... we just openly admitted that we broke the law.”

Weimer went on to say that the district is excited about the upcoming school year, but is also anxious. “God knows what’s going to happen when I turn on my computer tomorrow ... what’s going to happen down the line. We are currently functioning under the health and safety plan that we adopted ... meaning we are going to go as normal as possible until there’s a law that says we can’t.

“If we were opening school tomorrow, once the kids get off the school bus masks would be optional ... we would have kids closer than six feet because we don’t have the space to social distance. We would have the barriers down at lunch, that would be our start if they don’t change anything else. Shy of the masks on the school bus, that’s a pretty close to normal start up.”

With the health and safety plan, however, the school district will still need to do contact tracing. “As of today, the contact tracing has not changed,” Weimer said. “We try to sort that out the best we can, however, there are some things that trump that. If you are vaccinated, you don’t have to quarantine. At that point, our nurses will ask you to provide proof of your vaccination. That’s the only time we can ask, but you do have to provide the proof to trump the quarantine.”