2013-08-29 / Local & State

Southern Fulton Addresses Back-To-School Agenda

Talks about natural gas pipeline project
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz
NEWS EDITOR

The Southern Fulton School Board dealt with several last minute issues last Tuesday night as it prepared for the arrival of their student body the following morning for the first day of the 2013-14 school year.

Under personnel, Amanda Schetrompf was hired to serve in the capacity of sixth-grade teacher, while Rusty Bender was appointed to the position of custodian. Both Schetrompf and Bender, along with newly hired English teacher Michael Breslin, were on-hand for the August 20 meeting and introduced themselves to board members.

Teachers Rodney Leese and Ryan Ickes will be respectively serving as mentors this year for Breslin and Schetrompf.

Carla Hartman was approved to serve as a substitute teacher’s aide for the current 2013-14 school year pending the completion of paperwork. In addition, Garret R. Fix, Allison Ritchey and Melissa Duncan were added to the district’s list of substitute teachers pending the completion and receipt of necessary paperwork.

Kelly Sipes was given a nod of approval to work as an Americorps worker for 2013-14 for the purpose of transition. It was noted Sipes’s position is paid for by Medical Assistance Funds.

Teaching and staff assignments were approved as presented to the board as was the list of professional conferences for the school year.

Curriculum

Fundraisers and field trips were authorized for 2013-14 as submitted.

Several classes that have fewer than 10 students enrolled were approved by the board. It was noted as part of the monthly agenda, Accounting 1 has seven students; advanced earth/space, 8; guitar, 6; and Webpage design, 9.

Furthermore, elementary instrumental lessons typically have less than 10 students enrolled due to the variety of instruments offered. The board briefly discussed participation in the elementary band that was said to have grown significantly for students enrolled in grades four, five and six.

Transportation

Longtime bus contractor Glenn Ward appeared before the board during public comment about his request to transfer Bus Route #13 to his son, Eugene, retroactive to August 15 through the remainder of the contract that expires in 2019. Ward, whose family has served the school for 41 years, said while he loved the kids and hated giving up the job he has been suffering from leg problems recently. He noted his dissatisfaction with the recent rerouting process that has another bus travel by his home to pick up kids he transported for 38 years.

After mentioning a prior votech run as well as an alleged mileage overcharge, board President Allen Morton went on to thank Ward for his service. “You got a check for everything you did for this district,” Morton told the bus driver.

The contract transfer was approved on a 6-0 roll-call vote. Board members Tim Hull, Tim Mellott and Tim Souders were unable to attend last Tuesday’s monthly meeting.

Landry Brantner, John Tluchino, Gary Smith and Linda Beegle will be serving as activity run drivers this year. Meanwhile, Melissa Snyder, Carolyn Pepple and Stacey Vance received approval to serve as full-time drivers for Snyder Bus Lines, LLC. An additional request by Snyder Bus Lines was also approved for Toby Holley, Michael Broderick, Matthew Broderick, Jackie Byer and Brittany Bumbaugh to be substitute drivers pending the receipt of credentials and clearances.

School-bus-stop-ahead signs were approved for placement before and after homes located at 10004 Buck Valley Road and 4098 Old 126.

Policies/contracts

The board moved forward with adopting a resolution to establish a Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone (KOEZ) at the old elementary school. The motion carried on a 5-1 roll-call vote, with board member David Smith dissenting. However, the resolution to offer tax incentives to incoming businesses was a moot point, as weeks earlier the Bethel Township Board of Supervisors failed to approve the KOEZ. In order for a KOEZ to be instituted, approval is required from all three taxing bodies – the school district, the county and the municipality.

The second reading of 19 different policies was approved dealing with various topics such as tobacco use by pupils and staff, weapons, terroristic threats, and discipline of students with disabilities.

Superintendent Hervey Hann and buildings and grounds supervisor John Mixell were granted authorization to move forward with negotiations and executing a contract for propane heating at the high school.

Earlier in the evening, Bain told the board about the proposed use of a vaporizer for propane heat until work on the natural gas pipeline is completed as contracted with Columbia Gas. Without the use of a vaporizer, the district would potentially have to close down the school if there were several consecutive days of zero-degree weather with snow, Bain said.

The board along with the administration also discussed the delays in seeing the pipeline come to fruition. In connection with that discussion, local resident Daniel Peck said the agreement with Columbia Gas for the natural gas pipeline was not one of the good decisions he’s seen from the board in the past year. Peck urged the board to go and get back as much of their $537,000 as possible. He suggested going with propane as there could be significant savings.

“We’ve already researched it, asked questions and voted on it (twice), board member Eric Barnhart said. “...This just sounds like a knee-jerk reaction.”

Fellow board member Smith asked about what recourse can be taken against Columbia Gas as the company is late on delivering on their promises to the district. He added it may be worthwhile to have the district’s solicitor review the contract and “turn up the heat” on Reynolds or Columbia Gas.

Comments were also made regarding whether P&W Excavating has been in contact with Columbia Gas. It was alleged the six-inch line to be installed would not be large enough to serve the company. It was suggested the administration speak directly with P&W.

“They (P&W) will suck up more (natural gas) than the town and school combined. We need a bigger line to accommodate them,” noted board member Danny Crouse.

Buildings and grounds

Contractor David Smith was authorized to use the elementary library on August 24 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. for the purpose of conducting school bus refresher training.

Ginny Smith will be using the high school cafeteria and restrooms on October 12 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for a 5K walk/run and one-mile kids run. The event is to benefit the infant daughter of Justin and Jenn Mellott. Board member Smith abstained due to an immediate family relation

Public comment

Daniel Peck suggested having a public comment period at the end of the meeting to give residents an opportunity to discuss the agenda and the board’s decisions on the agenda. Crouse made a motion to move the public comment to the end of the meeting, but the motion failed for a lack of a second. Several board members indicated they felt they were “liberal” in allowing the public to speak out on matters throughout the meeting.

Presentation

Dan Berger of Tuscarora Intermediate Unit #11 made a presentation to the board on the importance of data collection. Berger said the collection of data is now done in accordance with strict timelines and urged the district to begin planning now in order to save time next spring.

Superintendent Hann told the board the technology coordinator, Doug Leisher, and the administrative team have already met and reviewed the first three phases of the project. “We’re making a conscientious effort here that correct numbers are inputted,” Hann said.

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