John Harkins, revered Panther Valley School District teacher and coach, passed away October 19. Now his family has made a donation from his estate to the district, earmarked for its basketball program.
Harkins, who taught English Literature, was head high school basketball coach for six years, compiling a 110-37 record. He had also coached football, basketball and track at the former Lansford High School. Athletic Activities Director Kristin Black told directors about the donation during a school board meeting Wednesday night. She declined to name the amount.
"He was a remarkable person within the entire Panther Valley community," Black said. She added that the board's athletic activities committee - Anthony DeMarco, Michelle Markovich and Richard Zabroski - will discuss how best to use the donation, and will report their suggestions to the board at a future time.
In other business involving Athletics and Activities, the board hired two assistant basketball coaches, both at a rate of $1,225 for the season. James Filer was hired for the seventh and eighth grade programs, and Erica Barron was hired for the high school program. The board also approved Charley DePuy and Richard Evanko as volunteer basketball coaches; and James Hull, Ray Trevora, Jill Zwiesdak and Tim Robb as volunteer softball coaches.
The board also accepted the resignation for retirement of Susan Marconi, custodian, effective June 30, 2013. Superintendent Rosemary Porembo said that Marconi had served the district for 14 years, and "would be missed."
Porembo also reported that 327 parents of students in grades six to 12 have enrolled their children in a voluntary drug testing program. This program is in addition to the district's drug testing policy for students who participate in athletic and extra-curricular activities.
In August 2010, Panther Valley adopted a drug testing policy for students who participate in athletic and extracurricular activities. The policy included three elements, voluntary testing, reasonable suspicion testing, and random testing.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the district, arguing that the random testing element of the policy was unconstitutional. In September 2011, the directors voted to remove the random testing element from the drug testing policy.
The next regular meeting for the Panther Valley School board will be held Dec. 6 at 7 p.m., with a meeting for reorganization taking place first, beginning at 6:30 p.m.