Tamaqua Area School District students can expect to get physically fit next year thanks to four grants totaling approximately $40,000 the district has received from Highmark High Five.

The district will be purchasing athletic equipment for the its physical education departments, which will include $10,000 for mountain bikes for the high school, $10,000 for Trickster exercise bikes for the middle school, and $10,000 for Wii gaming systems for West Penn and Tamaqua Elementary Schools.

Assistant Superintendent Ray Kinder said the high school's physical education classes will use the mountain bikes on the trails behind the high school rather than the athletic track.

"We're very excited," Kinder said. "A lot of people are into biking, and it's something that can be a lifelong activity."

Kinder noted the elementary students can also use the Wii gaming system during the winter months or days with inclement weather, rather than go outside for their gym classes. He added the administration is considering installing the Wii system in the former kindergarten classrooms at Tamaqua Elementary.

In personnel matters, the board approved the retirement of Deborah Yuskauskas, Nesquehoning, as the high school health room assistant. She has been added to the substitute health room assistant list for the 2011-2012 school year.

The board also approved the following individuals as coaches, volunteer coaches, advisers, and volunteer assistants for the upcoming school year at stipends to be determined: Greg Stewart, New Ringgold, head boys soccer coach; Keith James, Tamaqua, assistant boys soccer coach; Joshua Shilko, head golf coach; Melissa Hess, Tamaqua, head cheerleading coach; Megan Ingraham, assistant cheerleading coach; Joseph M. Wagner, Nesquehoning, junior varsity girls basketball coach and 7th grade junior high girls basketball coach; Thomas I. Kanger, head track and field coach; Samuel Schaefer, Tamaqua, assistant track and field coach No. 1; Michael Sakash, assistant track and field coach No. 2; Jerry Zubey, Tamaqua, volunteer track and field coach; Mark E. Beltz, band director; Paul T. Orsulak, Tamaqua, assistant band director, with the stipend amount of $2,267.

In other personnel matters, the board approved Ryan Thomas, Mohrsville, as an addition to the substitute teacher list for the upcoming school year. The board also approved the following elementary liaison teachers for 2011-2012: Diane Michalik, kindergarten, Rush Primary Center; Charise Fiorilla, Grade 1, Rush Primary Center; Cynthia Viel, grades 4-5, Tamaqua Elementary; Sharon Mateyak, grades 2-3, Tamaqua Elementary; Vanessa Boyle, grades K-2, West Penn Elementary; Michele Bittner, grades 3-5, West Penn Elementary; Jolene Barron, elementary extended services, Maureen Schoener, elementary special education.

The board also approved the following department chairpersons for the 2011-2012 school year: middle school: Kristine Shellhammer, language arts; Barry Wargula, mathematics; Edward J. Mariano, science; Barbara Leiby, social studies; Kathy Mansell, special education. High school: Thomas I. Kanger, business education; Cathy Miorelli, extended services; Sharon Chromiak, fine and practical arts; Melissa Day, language arts; Karen Campomizzi, mathematics; Ellen Troxell, health and physical education, Mark Solon, science; Connie Segedy, social studies; Amanda Hascin, world languages, and James Betz, special education.

Approval was also given for the Schuylkill Intermediate Unit No. 29's Special Education Program and to contract for Teacher Aid Service Agreement for the 2011-2012 school year for the tentative amount of $1,161,233, payable in six scheduled installments over the course of the year.

The district will also contribute $2,500 to the Eastern Schuylkill Recreation Committee and $7,000 to the Tamaqua Public Library.

The board also recognized a salary freeze for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, with wages remaining the same as were in effect for 2010-2011 for administration and Act 93 employees, non-contract employees, and cocurricular and athletic employees. The district's Interscholastic and Voluntary Accident Insurance with the Maskin Group, effective Aug. 1, 2011 through Aug. 1, 2012 at the cost of $13,455 was also approved.

A price increase for school lunches was approved. Elementary lunches will now cost $2.05, secondary lunches $2.30. District business manager Connie Ligenza explained this is a federal mandate requiring all school districts to increase their lunch costs by $. 05 for the 2011-2012 school year.