Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Homer-Center board votes to hire director of special education

by on August 22, 2014 10:54 AM

CENTER TOWNSHIP — The Homer-Center School District board of directors has hired a new director of special education to the administrative staff.

At their monthly business meeting Thursday, the board named Bethany Genchur to the position at an annual base salary of $79,500, to be prorated for the actual time she works for the district.

Genchur, who originally is from Indiana, has worked more than 10 years for the Tyrone Area School District in Blair County, and is expected to be released from her position as the special-education early intervention coordinator in mid-October, according to Homer-Center District Superintendent Charles Koren.

Genchur will assume some of the responsibilities held by Homer-Center’s former coordinator of curriculum and special programs, Jeanette Geary, who resigned in April to relocate from the district.

The board voted 7-0 to hire Genchur, with President Vicki Smith and directors Gerald Bertig, Michael Bertig, Dan Fabin, Fred Hayes, James McLoughlin and Julie Rado in favor. Board members Joy Sasala and Sherri Williams were absent.

The board also renewed an annual agreement with the state police at Indiana, a document that outlines the range of services that troopers would provide and describes the kinds of incidents in the schools that state police would handle.

The state police remain the primary responder for the district, despite the recent passage of legislation that allows schools to contract for service from municipal police departments located close to the schools.

The measure was spearheaded by state Sen. Don White, of Indiana.

“Senate Bill 1194 deals mainly with municipal departments that run on a 24/7 basis. Our (Homer City) borough department operates on a 16/7 basis — 16 hours a day, not 24 hours a day,” Koren said.

“We would need further arrangements and agreements if we employed Homer City Borough police with enforcement authorization at our school buildings. We would need a mutual agreement with the (Center) township supervisors as well as the state police, as to the time that they are present and their enforcement authorization.”

In an ensuing discussion, directors pondered whether the district could rely on Homer City police for unexpected incidents, while state police continue to make routine patrols on school property while classes are in session or during afternoon and evening events.

For most incidents, the district contacts the state police, Koren said, but in case of a crisis, any formal agreements are trumped by the obligation to get the nearest police officers to the scene as quickly as possible.

Board member Michael Bertig suggested that the district’s campus, located on Center Township ground that borders Homer City Borough, could become part of the borough and benefit from neighborhood police protection.

“Would there be any value to investigate if we could be annexed? It seems to me that for the quickest response time, you would want the borough police who are literally next door, not the state police who may or may not be near,” Bertig said.

Koren agreed with the concept.

“From what we know about responses to school crisis situations, the response time needs to be as short as possible, and it makes sense that the police closest to the campus would be the first to respond,” Koren said. “We are fortunate that we are contiguous to the borough.”

Directors asked Koren to take the idea to the district solicitor for input, and concluded discussion with unanimous approval of the state police agreement as presented.

In other business, the board:

• Approved a performance audit report prepared by the Pennsylvania auditor general for district operations from September 2011 to November 2013.

Koren said the report contained minor findings in the areas of teacher certification and the residence and enrollment of a foster child.

Business Manager Greg Cessna said the audit found the district had been overpaid in its state subsidy by an amount that would be repaid in withholding from a future subsidy. The amount of the discrepancy was not immediately available Thursday evening.

• Approved Provine Studios, of Altoona, to provide the annual elementary school photographs for the coming school year.

• Excused the local tax collectors of $1,702.25 worth of tax payments from senior citizen property owners, who earned credit toward their 2014 real estate tax bills by performing volunteer work through the Senior Tax Exemption Program (STEP) in the 2013-14 school year.

• Approved district resident Peggy Dominick to serve as a school crossing guard in the STEP program for 2014-15.

• Approved family medical leave for elementary teacher Emily Gates for 12 weeks estimated to begin Oct. 3.

• Hired Dawn Taylor as a part-time cafeteria worker beginning Monday at the 2013-14 starting salary of $9.64 an hour, to be adjusted according to a forthcoming labor contract for the 2014-15 school year.

• Accepted the resignation of part-time cleaner Danielle Kishlock, effective Monday.

• Hired Donna Deyarmin as a part-time cleaner at the 2013-14 starting salary of $9.13 an hour, to be adjusted according to a forthcoming labor contract.

• Approved the annual renewal of an agreement with Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission for Student Assistant Program services in the 2014-15 school year.

• Formally approved the addition of new one-semester courses STEM Careers and STEM Problem Solving for the 10th grade and a STEM module to be incorporated in an eighth-grade computer class. The courses focus on science, technology, engineering and math education.

• Approved lists of school bus routes, rider assignments, drivers and spare drivers for 2014-15.

• Approved requests for travel for four student field trips and one teacher conference.

• Approved the use of the elementary gym by the football boosters to hold dances from 9 to 11 p.m. following home football games on Sept. 12 and 19 and Oct. 10, 18 and 31.

• Retroactively approved the use of the elementary large-group instruction room on Aug. 12 for a PIAA volleyball rules and interpretation meeting.

• Approved the use of the high school cafeteria by the football boosters to serve meals to the football team on Aug. 27, Sept. 4, Sept. 11, Sept. 18, Sept. 25, Oct. 2, Oct. 9, Oct. 16, Oct. 23 and Oct. 30.

Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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