The Jim Thorpe Area School Board welcomed a new member while saying goodbye to two of their own Monday night at the final school board meeting for Dr. Barbara Conway, the retiring superintendent of schools for the district.
The meeting, which had started with an emotionally charged informational session regarding the potential closing of a school that teaches troubled youth and the merging of its students into the Jim Thorpe Area schools, ended on a positive note, with Conway accepting 13 roses from Board President Dennis McGinley, one for each year of her tenure in the school district.
The commentary from concerned parents regarding the potential YSA school closing continued into the regularly scheduled meeting at the Jim Thorpe Area High School auditorium, but the tone gradually turned, as Mindy Graver thanked Conway for her support for the PROSPER Project, a program to help prevent problem behaviors.
The board then accepted the resignation of School Board Director John Partenio and elected Michael Principe as his replacement. Principe took his seat, and the board set about its business in the final meeting of the school year.
Several new hires were approved, including a narrow 5-4 vote for assistant principal for the Jim Thorpe Area School District, Shawn Kopp. A vote to approve a contract for incoming Superintendent Brian Gasper was tabled to give the board members time to review the contract. A special board meeting on June 23 will be held to take that vote.
Other hires included Jason McElmoyle as boys' head basketball coach, and Heather Formica as assistant varsity cheerleading coach.
Board member William Allison, chair of the curriculum committee, gave some of the evening's best news, noting that the magazine Newsweek gave a bronze designation to the high school as one of America's Best High Schools out of fewer than 200 in the state of Pennsylvania.
Also, several winners were announced for the Junior Academy of Sciences competition, including: Haley Cope, Lindsay Capper, Margaret Halloway, Stephanie Zemiatiatis, Christian Gould and Alex Hauck. Fifth-grade student Sharon Buell was named PPL Electric Utilities electrical safety poster contest grand prize winner, and the Poetic Achievement Award from Creative Communications was given to the Penn-Kidder Campus.
The night, however, was Conway's, who gave her final district report. The report was a snapshot of the accomplishments by the district over the past year. It included above-average scores by students, new training and programs taken on by staff, including an anti-bullying program, and a benchmarking tool, Aimsweb.
Conway noted the expansion of AP classes and LCCC placement in the district. Advances in equipment, such as new computers, software and recycling programs were highlighted, and additions to the buildings and grounds, like a new roof for the administration building, were called out.
After her presentation, McGinley gave her the 13-rose bouquet, saying that it had been "an honor and a privilege to be on a board with you," to a standing ovation by the board and the remaining parents in attendance.