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BLAIRSVILLE-SALTSBURG: School board reorganizes at meeting

by MARGARET HARPER on March 20, 2014 10:55 AM

CONEMAUGH TOWNSHIP — The Blairsville-Saltsburg school board reorganized Wednesday, unanimously electing George Rowley as president in the wake of the recent resignation of board President B. Edward Smith.

Mary Whitfield was elected vice president, a position that had been held by Rowley, on a vote of 5-3. Directors Rowley, Whitfield, Beverly Caranese, Linda Brown and Tim Canzano voted in her favor, with Holly Hall, Holly Gibson and Rick Harper voting instead for Harper, who was also nominated.

Canzano was appointed to replace Smith as the district representative on the Indiana County Technology Center board. He was previously an alternate, a position now filled by Brown.

Also Wednesday, the board extended the deadline for letters of interest in filling Smith’s vacant seat on the board.

Interested candidates should provide information to board secretary Leigh Free.

Three people have already been interviewed for the appointment.

Vacancies must be filled through the board within 30 days of the resignation.

Smith’s replacement will serve the remainder of his term until December 2015. The seat represents Region 1, encompassing Blairsville Borough Precincts 1, 2 and 3 and Burrell Township Precinct 2.

The board will schedule a special meeting to fill the vacancy.

In other business, the board:

• Tabled approval of the school calendar amid discontent by some parents over early dismissals on Fridays.

Parents have attended recent board meetings to complain about the cost of extra child care and other inconveniences they say the new schedule causes. The changes were implemented this year.

Assistant Superintendent Ian Magness said parents should visit the district’s website at to provide feedback. A link at the bottom left under “2014-2015 School Calendar” will direct parents to the correct place.

He will also send letters home to parents with directions on how to submit feedback on the calendar.

That information, he said, will be used to help guide decisions regarding the calendar for the 2014-15 year, and any adjustments that could be made.

The direct link is

• Will research providing pay to assistant coaches for varsity and junior varsity cheerleading at both ends of the district at the suggestion of Brown. Cheering has a “never-ending season” and the assistant coaches deserve pay, she said. Business manager Eric Kocsis will report back to the board with details at a future meeting.

• Will release the board agenda earlier on the district’s website. Currently, the agenda is online at midnight prior to the meeting. Holly Gibson asked that the agenda be made available 48 hours beforehand. However, the agenda is subject to change until noon the day of a meeting, administrators said.

• Heard from Hall, who questioned the board and solicitor about the legality of what she called a “meeting of the officers” which she and some other board members were not privy to, she said. Solicitor Gary Matta cautioned her to not discuss anything that may jeopardize any personal information, after which the two held a quick executive session in the hallway.

Superintendent Tammy Whitfield said the meeting was a “matter of a personal issue with a board member” and no deliberation or action was taken.

Matta said he will further investigate the incident at Hall’s request.

• Notified Tammy Whitfield of the intent to renew her contract, which expires within a year, for either three or five more years.

• Accepted a Safe School Initiative targeted grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education for $25,000. This grant will help fund more security upgrades to entrances, Magness said.

• Approved the general operating budget for ARIN IU 28 for the 2014-15 year. There is no cost increase to the district.

• Approved health and physical education teacher Justin Kulick to attend an American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance national convention in St. Louis from April 2 to 4 at no cost to the district.

• Approved the following field trips at no cost to the district: SES fifth grade, Blackleggs Creek & Education Area, May 19; SES first grade, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, May 5; district sophomores, Kiwanis Leadership Conference, Indiana Country Club, March 26.

• Approved Brock Harsh as a volunteer softball coach.

• Hired the following supplemental personnel: Tracy Richards, SMHS volunteer varsity cheerleading coach; Richard Serafin, BMHS volunteer volleyball coach; Amanda Anderson, BHS yearbook adviser; Glenn Richards, Saltsburg athletic director; Janelle Reed, SMHS basketball girls’ head coach; Michelle Simpson, SMHS basketball girls’ junior varsity coach; and Mark Palmer, SMHS baseball head coach.

• Approved leaves of absence for the following: Ashley Helgert, BES elementary teacher, from about April 16 to the end of the school year; Amanda Anderson, learning support, BMHS, May 28 to the end of the school year; Kristin Stine, custodian, retroactive from March 3 to March 6; and Linda Lorraine Henry, instructional aide, April 4 to May 19.

• Hired Ashley Snyder as a long-term substitute from April 17 to the end of the school year for $20,000 in the absence of Jennifer Surratt.

• Approved the following substitutes: Sandra Blystone, LPN; Kelly Affolter, early childhood and special education; Rebecca Mitchel, elementary and special education; Lindsey Strength, language arts; and Christie Hika, guest teacher; Megan Rumbaugh, custodian.

• Will reimburse Eric Kocsis, business manager, $40 per month for a cellphone in lieu of a district cellphone.

• Approved the following retirement requests: Mary Hileman, BES reading specialist, since 1988; Rick Lowman, BMHS social studies teacher, since 1977; Janet Lukacs, BES elementary teacher, since 1990; Alice Moore, BMHS music teacher, since 1981; and Janet Ross, BMHS family and consumer science teacher, since 1984.

• Hired the following: Sarah Blair, BES librarian; Tara Powers, special education; and Jonathan Taylor, SMHS technology education. All were at salaries of $51,882, the first step of the bachelor’s scale.

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