School Board Honors Outgoing Members, President
By Rick Hiduk
The monthly meeting of the Wyalusing Area School District (WASD) school board had elements of a variety show, a pep rally, and an appreciation banquet, but many important policy decisions were also confirmed and discussed during the two-hour gathering held in the Wyalusing Valley Elementary School (WVES) cafeterium on Nov. 14.
After the pledge to the flag, members of the Wyalusing Valley High School (WVHS) senior chorus delivered a harmonious rendition of the national anthem, which, under the direction of Carol Madill, was followed by a spirited number called “Doin’ it A Capella.” The latter was one of many songs that will be featured in a concert fundraiser to be held on Saturday evening in the WVHS auditorium.
Elementary school principal Joe Darrow, Susan Kilmer, and several other faculty members involved with the new Positive Behavior System (PBS) program, which encourages faculty and staff members to acknowledge good conduct and to reward children for showing exemplary behavior, showed a seven-minute video that impressed board members and led to their approval of accepting a $15,000 grant to continue the program through this school year.
Under the category of personnel, board members voted unanimously to accept the services of volunteer coaches Jerry Kipp, Jim Schools, Lori Morrison, Donnie Stoddard, Dawn Seamon, Ralph Newton, Jon Vande Mark, Bridget Vande Mark, Krystle Putnum, A.J. McKennas, Lee Hulsizer, Joshua Fisk, David Patrick, Matt Lee, Michael Cobb, and Tyler Crawford, pending receipt of necessary documentation.
On the topic of finances, the school board accepted a donation of $5,800 from Kenneth and Caroline Taylor and Thomas and Margarita Taylor for the purchase of a new soccer scoreboard. They also voted to deny a motion to request an exception to Act 1, which would have put a potential hike in school taxes to a referendum vote. WASD superintendent Chester Mummau encouraged the “no” vote on the premise that the sales of the four former elementary school buildings should keep the district within budget this year and negate the need for an increase in taxes.
The sale of two of the school buildings appears to have stalled, even though the potential buyers have winterized the structures by draining and shutting off water to them. School board members expressed their frustration that there are no signed agreements yet for the buildings in New Albany and Laceyville. Board member Tari Trowbridge made a motion to give the potential buyers, who were not named, seven days to sign the agreement or allow the properties to be put back on the market. Fellow board member Brian Zeidner seconded the motion, and the rest of the board voted to approve the motion.
On its second reading, a collection of school district policies on tobacco use was modified and approved. In essence, there is no smoking allowed by teachers, staff members, or visitors any place on the school’s campus. Most of the discussion revolved around disciplinary actions for students caught smoking and how to enforce no-smoking rules among spectators at sporting events. The new policy as it affects the public involves having a school administrator approach visitors who are observed smoking on campus for the first time and advising them of the no tobacco policy. If there is a second occurrence, the offender will receive a written warning about the potential of a “no trespass” order. A third occurrence would result in a “no trespass” order, and a fourth offense would involve law enforcement officials.
In his student representative report, WVHS senior Adam Brigham reported that students at the school are engaged in a wide range of activities, such as athletics, the arts, community service, and academics. He attended a SADD conference in Lancaster and was happy to relate that the organization has expanded its list of concerns to better reflect the lifestyles of today’s students. More attention has been given by SADD this year to bullying and suicide prevention, he noted.
Mummau opened his monthly superintendent report by recognizing two board members, Trowbridge and Crystal Hons, who were participating in their final school board meetings. “I feel like I’m just getting to know them,” Mummau said with regret, noting that, while he has participated in meetings only since the spring, Trowbridge has more than nine years in association with the board, and Hons has served four years. Both received plaques and other gifts for their service to the district.
Trowbridge was also honored, along with 12-year school board member and current board president Deborah Stethers, by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, which recognizes board members who have served at least eight years, as well as subsequent four-year increments.
Hons took some time before the meeting was adjourned to personally thank and reflect on her relationship with each board member. In addition to the eloquent parting words she imparted on her colleagues, she shares some comments with a larger than average audience.
“I think that it is important for the public to know that, despite the fact that we sometimes disagree and vote differently on things, there is lot of effort put into the things that we do,” Hons stated, adding that the relatively small community is blessed to have such dedicated people on its school board.