Pennsylvania’s plan for immunizing residents against the coronavirus looks to be a fairly simple four-level plan.
The sick and those who care for them get top priority.
The next category includes police, firefighters, farmers and grocery store workers, preachers and teachers.
The third level, called 1C after the 1A and 1B groups, generally includes those deemed “essential” workers.
Everyone else is level four.
Indiana Area School District Superintendent Michael Vuckovich said Monday that teachers ought to be bumped up to the top level entitled to earliest vaccinations against COVID-19. He told the Indiana school board that he has written to the Pennsylvania Department of Health to ask for preference — possibly to line up teachers for inoculation within the first 100 days of the Biden administration.
“The sooner we get the vaccine, the sooner we can open our doors to full capacity,” Vuckovich said. “We’re advocating for our team, our families and our school district. I realize and recognize the hard work they have ahead of them, and we’re not asking for them to skip the line, we’re saying … is this a priority? And for planning purposes, what can we know about the distribution of the vaccines.”
The state Health Department website shows that statewide inoculation of the 1A group has not yet been completed.
In other business, the board:
• Accepted with regret the retirement notices of senior high science teachers Phil Palko and Richard Wilhelm. Both submitted notices of resignation effective at the end of the school year. Wilhelm was hired in July 2002; Palko has served at least 21 years with the district.
• Authorized the administration to work with Valbridge Property Advisors to set appraisals of properties owned by Super 8 motel and the Campus Crest and Copper Beech housing complexes at a cost of $5,500.
Recent reductions of property values approved by the Indiana County Board of Assessment Appeals would result in a combined loss of $40,000 of real estate tax payments to the district, Business Manager Jared Cronauer said.
The appraisals, he said, are hoped to set middle-ground values that would be more accurate and fairer to both the district and property owners.
• Hinted that financial matters involving the district and Specialty Tires of America may be on the table, as the board conferred earlier in a closed-circuit executive session on the result of a survey of the property line with Eisenhower Elementary School. The board commissioned Bowman Land Surveying, of White Township, in December to determine the boundary.
• Appointed Carol Kerchensky as a mentor support teacher for the remainder of the school year for extra pay of $691 per semester ($7.43 a day). She will advise a long-term substitute who recently was hired in the guidance office.
• Adopted updated policies concerning health examinations and screenings, discipline of students convicted or adjudicated of sexual assault, job-related expenses, working periods and sick leave.
• Learned that the progress of the district’s comprehensive plan update process is being charted online. An inaugural session drew more than 60 participants, Vuckovich said.
• Approved extra-duty, extra-pay assignments for springs sports and activities, including head baseball coach William Thompson at $7,157; assistant baseball coaches Dan Petroff and Dennis Schultz, both at $3,032; head track coach Steven Cochran at $7,157.00; assistant track coaches Bill Waryck, Matthew Daymut, George Caroff, Lisa Kinter, Jeff Duffee, Candice Lockard, Aaeron Sykes and Aaron Scott Mossgrove, all at $3,032.00; head boys’ tennis coach Phil Palko at $6,067; assistant boys tennis coach Nick Buckshaw at $2,299; girls’ softball head coach Harold Wilson at $7,157; girls’ assistant softball coach Holly Myers at $3,032; girls assistant volleyball coach Allison Ball at $2,299; and musical vocal director Zachery Karcher at $1,599.
Cronauer said all would be paid the contracted wages if the sports seasons would be interrupted and not completed.
• Accepted the 2019-2020 audit report by Johnstown-based CPA firm Kotzan & Associates.
Director Julia Trimarchi Cuccaro, chairwoman of the Audit & Finance Committee, said the district had “made inroads” into reducing debt last year by $2.5 million to $31 million.
She said the food service program earned a profit despite the closings of the schools and cafeterias from March to June due to the pandemic. Curbside lunch service made the difference, she said.
“We pumped out a lot of meals during the pandemic,” Cuccaro said. “Everybody got on board. It was a logistical gem that we pulled this off.”
In connection with 2021-2022 budget planning, Cronauer reported that Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) has reduced the district’s contribution rate to the plan to 34.94 percent of total salary, a reduction to 3.85 percent.
Cronauer said the district collected 94.7 percent of real estate tax billing for 2020, which was almost 2 percent more than the amount expected.
Overall revenue was higher than 2019, but by less than 1 percent more, but an increase in federal grants to cover the district’s pandemic related expenses and revenue losses would total more than $1.5 million.
The district’s fund balance on July 1, counting general and capital reserve money, was $9.4 million.