Blairsville High School sign 004.JPG

Stock news photos. Blairsville High School

The Blairsville-Saltsburg School District moved forward with building the athletic department for the July 1 change to River Valley School District, hiring head coaches and an athletic director at a special meeting Tuesday.

The board hired Jess Houser as head football coach on a vote of 6-3.

Directors Molly Stiles, Mary Whitfield, Linda Brown, Anthony “Tim” Canzano, Connie Constantino and Beverly Caranese voted in favor. Board president Rick Harper and director Holly Gibson opposed Houser’s hiring, and Holly Hall voted no to all positions. Gibson cited his lack of experience at the high school level during her vote.

“He’s raw, inexperienced,” Harper said after the meeting. “We’re going to wish him the best of luck and hope he does well.”

The board tabled other football positions.

On a motion by Brown after a failed motion to hire Mark DeMarines as boys’ varsity head basketball coach, the board instead hired Donnie Stitt on a vote of 6-3, with Gibson, Hall and Harper opposed.

Stitt was the Saltsburg boys’ varsity basketball head coach.

“Stitt coached all spring,” Harper said. “He did a nice job.”

However, Harper said the board isn’t sure he wants the position.

“We will have to find out,” Harper said.

Other positions for boys’ basketball were tabled.

On a motion by Canzano after a failed motion to hire Tiara Stossel as head coach for varsity girls’ basketball, Rick Brown was hired on a vote of 6-3, with Caranese, Gibson and Hall opposed. Other positions were tabled.

Brown was the Blairsville girls’ varsity basketball coach.

The girls’ head volleyball coach will be James Buckles. Scott Stuchal will be the head golf coach, and Kaitlyn Figurelli will be the head cross country coach.

Harper said the coaches will have the job of “bringing two schools together as one.”

“We wish them the best of luck,” he said.

Positions for wrestling, cheerleading, track and field, softball and baseball were tabled.

In addition, the board accepted the resignation request of Kelsey Ferguson as district director of athletics and student activities, and hired Stossel, a Saltsburg teacher and coach, for the position.

Harper said Ferguson resigned for personal reasons.

In other business, the board:

• Approved additional supplemental positions for the 2021-2022 school year for football varsity fourth assistant coach; data liaison; an additional Athena elementary position; strength and conditioning coach; and elementary yearbook.

• Hired employees for summer learning programs: Elementary STEAM Camp: Todd McGee, Linzi Strong, Angie Jorgenson, Brandy DelleDonne and Justin Kulik; Summer Learning: Susan Slezak, Christina Bell, Brandy DelleDonne, Monica DeLoreto and Sara Anderson; Middle/High School STEAM: Kassidy Richards, Justin Kulik; Middle School Reading Camp: Samantha Glass and Karen Mack; Middle School Math Camp: Samantha Glass; High School Reading Camp: Amanda Anderson and Karen Mack; High School Math Camp: Greg Kaylor; Credit Acceleration: Laura Thompson; Middle School Credit Recovery: Kassidy Richards and Karen Mack (substitute); High School Credit Recovery: Kayla Gunder and Karen Mack (substitute); Extended School Year: Rachel Boyer, Alexis Smith, Kelley DesLauriers, Kayla Fatula, Emily Miller, Molly Wallace, Kelly Brown; Summer Programming Substitutes: Heather Bole, Leah Onorato, Brandy DelleDonne and Karen Mack; Hired Layton Downs, Elizabeth Baron, Alexander Kopco, Michael Shoup and Judy Zerfoss as summer custodial/maintenance staff.

• Approved Jacob Guiher as business office consultant, not to exceed 10 hours a week, at $50 per hour.

• Approved new vision, dental and prescription plans, utilizing PSEA Health & Welfare Fund Vision Plan, Guardian Dental Insurance and Southern Scripts.

Superintendent Philip Martell said the new plans bring an estimated savings of around $300,000 annually.

The plans go into effect July 1.

“We’re very excited about the new plans,” Harper said. “We’re thankful the unions cooperated with us. This is what we’re trying to accomplish.”

• Hired Richard Schillow as the workforce development HUB coordinator at a beginning salary of $80,000. His start date will be determined upon release from his current employer.

• Approved these supplemental positions: Christopher Lyons, middle/high school band, choral and drama director; Chad Detwiler, band front director; Geoffrey Dixon, English Department chair; Kathy Muir, Mathematics Department chair; Heather Droste, Science Department chair; Sharon Highberger, Social Studies Department chair; Sharon Kunkle, Special Education chair; Melissa Milanak, audio visual sponsor; senior class co-sponsors Kathy Muir, Melissa Milanak and Heather Klingensmith; National Honor Society sponsor Naysa Altmeyer; SES Athena sponsor Kaitlyn Figurelli; BES Athena sponsor Diane Antonacci; secondary Athena co-sponsors Linzi Strong and Lori Baker; Technology Integrators Linzi Strong, elementary, and Lori Baker, Linsey Palazzi and Melissa Milanak, secondary; Joy Watt, elementary yearbook sponsor, and Kathy Muir and Melissa Milanak, secondary yearbook sponsors.

Margaret Weaver has served as a Gazette staff writer since 2006. She covers Clymer Borough, the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District and Blairsville court, and also works in the areas of layout, design and editing.