The Tunkhannock Area School Board is inching closer and closer to making a decision about consolidating buildings in the district.
At its regular board meeting Thursday, the group unanimously added an ‘Option 6’ to the other options proposed by KCBA Architects last fall as the discussion about possibly closing elementary school buildings around the district so the district itself could become more financially solvent got a full hearing.
“We’re not approving this, only adding it to the other options under consideration when we decide to vote on this,” board member Holly Arnold wanted to make clear.
The option would close the outlying elementary schools at Evans Falls, Mehoopany and Mill City, and seems to be gaining in popularity because it would not require any major construction to any of the buildings in Tunkhannock.
In a nutshell, Option 6 would allow for a primary center at what is now Roslund Elementary School and be set up for grades kindergarten to second; an intermediate center to go where the middle school presently is for grades three to six, and partly house an academy for seventh graders who would also use space in the administration building on Philadelphia Avenue; and then a junior/senior high school for grades 8-12.
Board member John Burke said the board’s March 23 meeting, would be the first to be able to vote on the matter of consolidation since it first went public on December 22.
He said discussion on any plan would have to make sure there was someone specifically leading the effort to make it happen; and also discussions needed to take place about changes in traffic patterns, grade realignments and in the case of Option 6 safety considerations for those seventh graders crossing the street between school buildings, and concerns about junior high sports with seventh graders possibly in one or two buildings and eighth in another.
Burke also raised the spectre of a bond issuance without getting into specifics.
He admitted that out of all of the options he’s seen Option 6 is a “little better in capital savings.”
Board President Phil Farr acknowledged, “A lot of this has been on our radar already” and the board would also have to deal with timing as to when things could be implemented.
Board member Bill Prebola said, “I’d like to propose this as an agenda item for our meeting in two weeks.”
At the outset of the meeting, the student spotlight was on a group of high school students who not only competed in the recent Governor’s Science Technology and Engineering Competition for Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18, but won it outright.
The team was comprised of junior Benjamin Migliori, and seniors Logan Gravelle, Noah Metzer and Joshua Beeman.
Metzer wasn’t at Thursday’s meeting.
Faculty member Karen Kutish served as the group’s adviser, but let them speak to the board about the project, because she noted she teaches biology, and a lot of what the students did is “out of my comfort zone.”
Migliori spoke of the Mobile Emergency Transmitting System or METS which the group devised so it could be used on the highway to inform approaching vehicles what bad traffic patterns might be on the road ahead.
Beeman walked around with a device about the size of a tablet and showed each of the school board members how it worked and “what happens when you hit a button.”
He then shared the device with the audience in attendance.
The device can be used by local law enforcement along with emergency responders and those at construction zones or anyone else wanting information about what’s ahead.
Kutish complimented the students, noting they wrote the computer code to create the system.
“They now have $750,” Kutish smiled, which she said would be used to further perfect the system before it is entered in a statewide competition May 19.
TA superintendent Heather Macpherson gave a shout out not just to the students but also to Kutish who has been enrolled in an Impact Leadership Program, and Kutish said she hopes she can inspire other teachers to pursue it.
In other business during the regular board meeting, the school board
*approved a high school curriculum guide;
*approved a list of 2016 per capita tax exonerations;
*appointed Holly Arnold and Randy Greenip as voting delegates to Pennsylvania School Board Association;
*approved a superintendent’s report which included the resignation of asst. football coach John Zdaniewicz, resignation of head girls track coach Aaron Keich, retirement of paraprofessional Anita Kupchunas, termination of employee #443, appointment of support staff substitute Cody Minicozzi, approval of Christina Brown as a substitute driver, rescinding of the appointment of Kenny Young as boys/girls asst. track coach, along with a list of volunteers. Extracurricular appointments included Young as girls head track coach, Cody Debour as boys/girls asst. track coach, Jana Hopfer as girls head lacrosse coach, Jennifer Mason as girls junior high track coach, and Harry Fenwick as boys 7/8 grade head baseball coach; and
*approved field trip attendance by Ken Luckey, Scott Howell, and Jason Keown.