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HOMER-CENTER: School directors laud work of four retirees

by on April 17, 2014 10:55 AM

CENTER TOWNSHIP — The Homer-Center School District board of directors saluted four retiring staff members at the monthly board meeting Wednesday.

The employees will leave with a combined 123 years of experience.

The board accepted the resignation notices from elementary school teachers Kathy Daskivich and Elaine Thurston, both with 38 years of service; Mary Ann Ciranni, with 34 years of service; and high school nurse Cathy Bonarrigo, who served 13 years in the district.

Board President Vicki Smith said the district will fill all the positions rather than leave any vacant to save money in the budget.

But board members and administrators said the women won’t easily be replaced.

“It is very difficult for the board, the principals and the school itself to ever replace the wealth of knowledge that comes with this number of years,” said Superintendent Charles Koren.

“The rewards of education come after the kids you have in class grow up. We wait a long time for that, and all the teachers know that.”

Board members stood to applaud the women, who all attended the meeting. Some directors thanked them for teaching their own children; board member Michael Bertig reflected on himself being one of their students.

“I thank you for allowing me to spend my final years of my 40-year nursing career in this district, that is my alma mater and I love dearly,” Bonarrigo said.

“If I had to choose a career over again, it would be teaching,” Daskivich said.

Ciranni and Thurston thanked the board for the recognition and the opportunity to serve the district.

Thurston said she began teaching at the high school and had called it a promotion when she moved to the elementary school.

“I’ve loved every day,” Thurston said. “It is going to be a challenge when August rolls around and the school buses go by, but it will be another chapter in our lives.”

“Replacing you with people fresh out of college will not be the same, and you will certainly be missed,” Bertig said. “I had the chance to work with you as a student and I appreciate everything you’ve done with the school district.”

In other business, the board:

• Accepted the resignation of curriculum and special programs coordinator Jeannette Geary, who has relocated to South Carolina. Geary had held the position since June 2011. Directors Smith, Michael Bertig, Gerald Bertig, Daniel Fabin, James McLaughlin, Julie Rado and Joy Sasala unanimously approved the resignation and all other matters on the agenda. Board members Fred Hayes and Sherri Williams were absent.

• Ratified the Indiana County Technology Center budget for 2014-15 in the amount of $6.1 million, including the Homer-Center district’s share of $307,914, an increase of about 0.8 percent over the current year.

• Authorized the district to participate in two grant awards received on behalf of the Evergreen Boys and Girls Club. The Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center awarded $4,640 for a program to increase physical activity, and the HighMark Foundation awarded $5,000 to help the district create a healthy school environment.

• Renewed the district’s insurance coverages in policies through Liberty Mutual at a cost of $54,724, and in policies through Westchester Fire Insurance Company for $4,269.

• Appointed district residents Joseph Canton, Michael Supinka and Robert Walbeck as board members of the newly established Homer-Center Education Foundation.

The foundation will serve as a 501(c)(3) qualified charity to accept deductible donations for school functions and to conduct fundraising activities, Smith said.

• Learned that the high school’s math and current events teams took first place, leading the Homer-Center team to the overall Heritage Conference academic competition, and that the high school indoor percussion ensemble was the winner in several recent competitions. The group, known as Nuclear Percussion, ranks third among all percussion groups in a nine-state region, according to high school Principal Jody Rainey’s report.

• Approved teacher Teresa Koenigsburg to attend the PSSA Mathematics Rangefinding Conference on May 5 through 8 in Harrisburg.

• Approved nine requests for student field trips including travel by the seniors and faculty members Deanne Magolis and Cindy Scott to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, on May 23, and by teacher Christine Yurky and one student, Taylor Palmer, to the National Affairs Conference on June 27 through July 3 in Black Mountain, N.C. All the other destinations are in Indiana County and the Pittsburgh area.

• Approved Abigail Weaver, Betsy Pike, Casey Williams and Neal Wentz as musicians for the high school musical.

• Approved James Overly as a choral and music program volunteer for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year.

• Approved the use of the high school large-group instruction room by the Indiana County Office of Planning and Development for a watershed planning advisory committee meeting from 5 to 8 p.m. April 30, for a fee of $100; the use of the LGI room and cafeteria for a principals effectiveness training program sponsored by the Armstrong-Indiana Intermediate Unit from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 9, at no charge; and the use of the high school auditorium and cafeteria for the senior class baccalaureate service on June 1, at no charge.

• Approved the purchase of a Kubota lawn mower from Walker & Walker Equipment at a cost of $13,082.84.

This story edited at 8 p.m. April 17 to correct the spelling of Superintendent Charles Koren's name.

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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