All three of Panther Valley's school principals gave updates on their students at last night's regular board meeting.

Students in each of the schools are currently taking the PSSA tests and each principal spoke highly of the students' motivation and the work that has been done by the faculty and staff to prepare for these tests.

Robert Lombardo, the elementary school principal, explained that the third, fourth, and fifth grade students had taken several sets of practice tests throughout the year.

"The average elementary child spends 40 minutes on a test," he explained. "Each PSSA test is approximately two hours long. We've helped to build test endurance. We've gotten the kids in shape."

The school also held a pep rally prior to the tests to raise enthusiasm and school spirit.

"We have pep rallies for football games, why not for this," he said. "We have to show the kids that this is that important."

Lisa Mace, the middle school principal, said that the eighth grade students will finish their PSSAs next week, with the science portion of the exam.

"The whole science department has been supportive of preparing these kids," she said.

Mace added that as a special Earth Day activity, students had spent some time cleaning up the school grounds.

Joseph Gunnels, the high school principal, added that he has been checking the work that is being done by the 11th grade students as they take their exams.

"This is very high quality work," he said. "I think we're going to be impressed."

Gunnels also announced that eight high school students had placed in the top 20 percent in the nation on the National Financial Capability Challenge, which was coordinated through teacher Susan Solt in conjunction with the Department of the Treasury.

Alysha Drum, Jordan Duke, Jared Eickhoff, Stephen Hajcak, Brett Kerschner, Kayla Nunemacher, Jeremy O'Gorman, and Amanda Stocker were all recognized for performing in the top 20 percent.

Duke, Kerschner, and O'Gorman were further recognized for placing in the top 1 percent of students nationwide.

Janet Fisher, the technology coordinator, announced that the school will be hosting an open house to celebrate education and technology in the classroom in the near future.

The fifth grade students will also be attending a virtual class with a NASA flight instructor during the week of April 26. The title of the program is "Planet Hoping through the Solar System with Mathematics."

In other business, the board approved the following as summer cleaning persons to be scheduled as needed, up to five hours a day, at an hourly rate of $8.40: Helen Applegate, Maria Boner, Lisa Macalush, Theresa Kociolek, Fran Shemansik and Terri Yurick.

The board voted against hiring Todd Leslie as a regularly scheduled part-time custodian.

Directors Bill Hunsicker and Anthony DeMarco voted for his hiring, while directors Irene Genther, Mickey Angst, Jeff Markovich, David Hiles, and Donna Trimmel voted against it.

The board hired Hollie Carsia as a full-time permanent grade six learning support teacher, effective April 23, at a salary of $33,915.

Edward Cocha was hired as a full-time permanent grade eight reading teacher, effective at the start of the 2010-2011 school year at a salary of $34,685.

Adrienne Bonner was hired as a full-time permanent high school math teacher, effective April 23, at a salary of $34,685.

Corrine Gates was transferred from middle school grade six to elementary grade five, effective at the start of the 2010-2011 school year.

Andrew Michalik was approved as a short-term substitute at the middle school retroactive to April 19 to continue until June 8, at a per diem rate of $135.

Megan Kusko was also hired as a swimming lesson instructor for the 2009-2010 school year.

The board also denied a request to convert the dismissal of Mary Robyn Hill to a resignation. Hiles, Markovich, Angst and DeMarco voted against the motion.

The board approved a bid not to exceed $800 on the Verta property at 401 West Bertsch Street in Lansford. This is the property adjacent to the stadium.

The board approved the Spiezle Architectural Group as the technical architectural and engineering service and Reading Electric Renewables as the project manager for the solar energy project.

Business manager Kenneth Marx added that the scope of the proposed project has been reduced from an 800 kilowatt to a 628 kilowatt system.

The board also voted to send a letter of support to state Sen. David Argall in favor of approving Senate Bill 1086, which would allow that a primary election for school director nominations shall not be held for the 2011 municipal elections and thereafter. Instead, directors would be elected in the November municipal elections.

The board accepted the resignation of Bill Richards as a member of the CCTI authority. Richards' term was from January 2008 until January 2013.