School Board Announces Auction, Welcomes New Student Representative
By Rick Hiduk
A number of weighty issues had already been discussed on Oct. 11 before Wyalusing Area School District (WASD) Superintendent Chester Mummau had an opportunity to introduce Wyalusing Valley High School (WVHS) senior Adam Brigham as the school board’s new student representative. Actually, Brigham had already taken the initiative to share the opinions of his fellow students with board members and Nutrition Group manager Mary Filler on the topic of school lunches when the monthly cafeteria report was reviewed.
Brigham, the son of Raymond and Susan Brigham, was reportedly the only student who expressed a serious interest in the position after it was advertised throughout the school in the days leading up to WVHS Principal Gary Otis making a permanent selection to fill the vacancy left by Adam Woodruff, who served as student representative to the board during the 2010-11 school year. Brigham, who plans to pursue a major in vocal performance when he attends college next year, was welcomed by school board members and administrators as “the perfect choice” for the seat.
As for the cafeteria report, Filler noted that the breakfast program has proven popular at both the elementary and high schools. The meals are free to the primary pupils due to a higher percentage of children eligible for free and reduced-cost meals at the lower grade levels. Eligibility forms for the new school year are due by Oct. 17, however, and the lists will be updated. Filler will note any significant changes at next month’s meeting. Lunchtime is running more smoothly at the elementary school as students and employees become more familiar with the new system, and more a la cart items have been added to the high school lunches.
It was noted that some of the high school students had suggested that they expected larger portions of food per meal, which Brigham echoed. He added that the options of combining one meal with another at a slightly higher rate has been well-received by most students.
The board retroactively approved the hiring of Katy Stoddard as the new secretary in the business office, and Shannon O’Connor Dunn was approved as a personal care aide as of Oct. 11. Pat Brown, Barbara Calaman, Mandy Carr, Courtney Grieve, Benjamin Hitchcock, Lisa Jayne, Stephanie Joyce, Rebecca Manney, Terri Miller, Bridget Stone, Kimberly Zechman, and Paul Vanderpool were approved as substitute employees in a variety of capacities. Jennifer Morningstar and Mary Sohns were approved as National Honor Society co-advisers, and Shauna Carr was approved as junior class adviser.
Mummau, who was presiding over his first school board meeting since the departure of former superintendent Ray Fleming, announced that Shamrock Auction Services will conduct a sale of surplus furniture and equipment—primarily that which was left over after the liquidation of the four former elementary buildings—on Saturday, Nov. 5. The auction will be held at the former Wyalusing Elementary School building at 80 Fifth St., starting at 10 a.m. A detailed list of items to be sold can be viewed online at www.shamrockauctions.com/auctions.
The board managed to pass several district-wide policies covering a range of issues, including to student conduct, school closings, emergency preparedness, hiring practices and tobacco use on school grounds. The latter two topics generated the most discussion, with board members Tari Trowbridge and Brian Zeidner casting “no” votes on policies that would allow the hiring of relatives of school board members under specific circumstances. Both had expressed an interest in drafting a “no-nepotism” policy at the previous meeting and stuck to their guns. Board members Richard Robinson and Deb Stethers acknowledged their concerns but expressed strong reservations that such a stringent policy could exclude the hiring of the only qualified candidate in the case of some future openings, given the relatively small size of the community.
On the topic of tobacco use, the fact that the penalties imposed on students caught smoking are harsher than for those caught using drugs or alcohol was brought to light. It was suggested that both of those policies be reviewed and brought into sync with each other. The school board members and administration also agreed that they would like to achieve zero tolerance for smoking on school grounds by faculty members and members of the public attending sporting events, but the policy is challenging to enforce. It was noted that many adults have been seen smoking in the nearby cemetery, and it was agreed that such an alternative was not a desired outcome of campus-wide tobacco prohibition.
Otis and elementary school principal Joe Darrow were asked to comment on busing, and both agreed that traffic flows through the campus more efficiently each day and is being modified routinely to get buses and parents on and off the property as quickly as possible. Mummau noted that the district might be forced to add one or two bus routes next year, as there are some students on buses for 70 minutes or more, and the buses are maxed out at 72 students each. It was suggested that more students are riding the buses than in previous years because of the consolidation. Parents who used to transport their own children to the satellite elementary schools now perceive the distance to Wyalusing as too far and instead put their children on the buses.
WASD maintenance supervisor Robert Brigham presented a glowing report on the efficiency of his staff since the consolidation, noting that he has pooled the staff into one building or another to accommodate special events with great success. Technology director Tim Yale indicated that the weather extremes of the past month have played havoc on the district’s internet service but, otherwise, he feels that the schools are reaching a point when technologies common to other districts, such as iPads, laptops, and more SmartBoards, could be integrated as the budget allows.