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INDIANA: School board deadlocks on music teacher; post left vacant

by on May 13, 2014 10:58 AM

A proposal to replace a retiring Indiana Area School District music teacher with a part-time teacher has fallen by the wayside.

After twice postponing votes on the proposal, the Indiana school board on Monday mustered a tie, 4-to-4 vote on the motion — falling short of the five votes necessary to pass it.

Although there was some debate over the wording of the motion, the board’s action means the position left vacant by retirement will not be filled and be eliminated.

School directors again debated the points raised over the past month. Supporters of the recommendation to hire a part-time teacher said the music faculty will be stretched too thin to teach the same classes they have in the past, and that art-based subject areas have sustained an unfair share of the staff reductions over the past several years. But those opposed said that with proper assignments, the administration can make sure the available staff can provide all the music instruction, including string lessons, the district has provided in the past — while applying the salary savings toward closing a budget deficit.

Directors John Barbor, Deborah Clawson, Diana Paccapaniccia and John Uccellini voted in favor while Hilliary Creely, Julia Trimarchi Cuccaro, Thomas Harley and Brian Petersen voted no. Robert Gongaware was absent.

In other business, the board:

• Cast a divided vote on a proposed list of guest substitute teachers presented for approval.

Without comment, directors Creely, Cuccaro, Harley and Petersen voted in favor and Barbor, Clawson, Paccapaniccia and Uccellini voted against it. Lacking five votes, the motion failed.

At a board meeting in April, directors discussed the practice of using “guest teachers,” who may hold professional or other experience in the subject area they would teach but do not hold teaching certificates. Some said then that the district should rely only on certified teachers as substitutes.

• Approved a list of 217 seniors tentatively qualified for graduation on June 5.

• Approved increases of 10 cents in lunch prices for 2014-15, setting the rates at $2.45 in elementary schools, $2.75 in secondary schools, $3.70 for adults, and 40 cents for reduced price lunches.

• Approved the food service budget proposed by contractor Chartwells for 2014-15, and authorized the administration to negotiate a one-year contract addendum providing a maximum loss of $40,000.

• Approved an employment agreement between the district and Jeffrey Boyer, who was hired in April to serve as assistant superintendent beginning July 1. The agreement describes the assistant superintendent’s duties and responsibilities and describes performance evaluation and assessment procedures, and outlines the salary and benefits for the position.

It sets Boyer’s salary at $114,000 for the first two years and at $116,500 in the third year, and adds $5,000 to the base if he becomes a resident of the district.

Boyer now lives and works in Somerset County.

• Approved planned courses of study for junior high school family and consumer science classes and the senior high school health and physical education curriculum.

• Approved the institution of the Pre-K Counts program for 2014-15, which relies on state grant funds for the salaries of two teachers, on a vote of 7 to 1. Paccapaniccia voted no.

• Approved an agreement to assist White Township with a grant-funded project of improvements at Kennedy King Park, particularly to develop the ball field in the park for use by the district’s varsity and junior varsity softball teams, at a maximum cost of $7,000. The district will pursue private contributions to help cover the costs.

• Authorized all board members to attend the REACH conference on school violence to be held on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus.

• Reappointed Indiana physician Christina Lubold as the district physician for 2014-15 at a rate of $4,500 plus $5 per mandated physical exam.

• Reappointed the Indiana County Dental Society and affiliated dentists as the district dentist for 2014-15 at a rate of $1,000 plus $1.50 per mandated dental exam.

• Accepted the resignation of food service worker Michelle Smith at the end of the school year.

• Approved an agreement for an alternative education program provided by Adelphoi Village for 2014-15.

• Appointed Business Manager Jared Cronauer to serve as treasurer of the district from July 1 to June 30, 2015.

• Named S&T Bank and PNC bank as depositories and approved S&T and First Commonwealth Bank for investments of district funds.

• Authorized the administration to advertise and hire two part-time workers at $7.25 an hour to help move contents of classrooms associated with the realignment of the elementary schools during the summer.

• Learned from high school Spanish teacher Dan Murphy that the student-exchange program plans to host 10 students from Spain in the district and to send eight Indiana students to Malaga from Nov. 3 to 24.

• Learned from Robert Piccirillo, of the Indiana County Technology Center faculty, that ICTC is hosting a project to increase awareness of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries. The “Save Your Brain: Indiana County Concussion Awareness Initiative” is preparing a comprehensive report of recommendations for schools to help injured students adjust to their challenges in education, including academic, vocational, technical and other programs.

• Welcomed District Superintendent Dale Kirsch back to the office following a one-month medical leave. Kirsch said he worked a couple of days last week, will be in the office a couple days this week, then return full time next week.

Kirsch and the board thanked Rodney Green, of the Altoona area, for his service as interim superintendent during Kirsch’s absence.

• Welcomed Dereck Yoder as the student representative to the board. Yoder, who will be a senior next year, succeeds Nyla Numan. The board’s student director may take part in discussion but is not allowed to vote on board business.

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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