Indiana, PA - Indiana County

HOMER-CENTER: Six teachers plan to retire at end of school year

by on April 20, 2017 10:57 AM
Homer City, PA

CENTER TOWNSHIP — Six veteran teachers with almost two centuries of combined classroom experience have announced their plans to retire from the Homer-Center School District.

The school board on Wednesday accepted resignation notices from the teachers and offered commendations on their long tenures in the district schools, including firsthand testimonials from younger board members who were taught by some of the educators years ago.

Those finishing their careers at the end of the school year are English teachers Roxanne Rouse, with 39 years, and Louis Stepanik, with 35 years of service; librarian Sarah DeVivo, 32 years; Spanish teacher Marcia Behr, 28 years; special education teacher Deb Pavloski, 19 years; and elementary technology teacher Teresa Koenigsburg, 19 years.

That’s a total of 172 years, and an average of more than 28 years per teacher.

Board president Vicki Smith said all would be missed but not all may be replaced. The district administration continues work on a budget proposal for the board’s consideration in May, and Smith said some teaching positions may be lost through attrition to help make ends meet.

“We have a lot of meetings and we’re debating how many vacancies will be filled,” Smith said. “We’re down to very little wiggle room in our budget. We don’t anticipate any cuts in our courses, but it’s going to be a very difficult budget.”

In other business Wednesday, the board:

• Learned that the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has confirmed an $85,000 grant for renovation of the elementary school playground and approved the district to proceed with the project. The district also has accepted community donations toward the playground.

• Approved an agreement with Hayden Appraisal Services, of Greensburg, to complete an appraisal report on property owned by Miller Welding and Machine Co. on Cooper Avenue, the former FMC plant. Miller has appealed its tax assessment with the county, and the appraisal along with consulting and conference services would enable the district to protect its interest in the assessment, administrators said.

• Approved a maintenance package for the district’s Alio business software programs from Weidenhammer Systems Corporation at an annual fee of $13,057.42.

• Approved Melinda Sharer as a substitute instructional aide; Jim Irwin and John Capitosti as volunteer track coaches; and a list of 13 parent volunteers as chaperones for the percussion group’s trip to Wildwood, N.J., from May 3 to 7.

• Approved one teacher conference attendance request and three student field trip requests, all in Pennsylvania.

• Approved a request for use of the high school and elementary school gymnasiums and cafeterias on May 20 for a 3-on-3 basketball tournament to benefit the Kai Hrabovsky Memorial Scholarship Fund, and waived the associated fees.

• Approved the use of the elementary school parking lot and front circle on May 6 for the Luther Ford “Drive For Your School” fundraiser to benefit the Class of 2024.

• Adopted a new policy concerning district finances and annual fund balance. The policy calls for the district to maintain an unassigned general fund balance between 5 percent and 8 percent of budgeted expenditures less the budgetary reserve each year.

The policy also addresses the uses of unbudgeted money and delegates responsibility for the fund balance to the business manager.

The wording of the policy was recommended by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, said District Superintendent Charles Koren.

“When we have a policy from PSBA, we are in the realm of best practices,” Koren said. “It’s somewhat of a safeguard for the board to deal with their fiduciary duties in a responsible manner.”

• Congratulated Smith, the board president, who was presented the annual “Friend of Education” award Tuesday by the Armstrong-Indiana Intermediate Unit No. 28.

“It’s an opportunity once a year for the school districts in the unit to identify someone who has, through a variety of means, assisted in the positive support of education as a leader and advocate in the region served by ARIN,” Koren said.

“It was a chance for me to talk about my advocacy for public education,” Smith said. “We let people know that it’s going to take all of us to help preserve funding for education following the changes with so much more money going to EITC programs and cyber and charter schools.

“I acknowledged the fact that out local representatives are very much in support of our schools, but they can only do so much. It’s up to us to help them. So I was very honored to receive the recognition.”

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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