Panther Valley High School will soon have a new principal.
The school board voted unanimously to hire Joseph Gunnels to fill the position that was vacated by George Gillespie as of January 15th. Gunnels, who is currently working in the Bangor School District as a gifted teacher, has experience as both a principal and assistant principal, and will take the position no later than March 31st. His salary was set at $75,000.
The board also approved an energy services contract with Schneider Electric Building Americas, Inc. in the amount of $3,242,501. This contract covers upgrades to the District's buildings that will ultimately result in energy cost reductions for the District, including replacement of the high school's air handlers, automation of the buildings' monitoring controls, building envelope air sealing, an electric to hot water heating conversion, and a gym lighting retrofit at the high school and elementary schools. Director David Hiles noted, "We're replacing 35-37 year old roof top units (at the high school.) They're long overdue to be replaced. We're not just spending something that we have a choice not to spend. These things are going to start breaking down and we're not going to be able to fix that."
Board president Jeff Markovich also asked if there would be any tax increase to cover this contract. Business manager Kenneth Marx, Jr. said that there would not be. According to Marx, the District is winding up payments for two projects that were completed in 2000 and 2001. "We have $275,000 budgeted for those two projects. Next year and the following year are the last years we'll be paying for those projects. We will use the funds that were budgeted to pay that to pay this," explained Marx. "Additionally, with this project is a guaranteed savings, which will decrease the cost of the project," he added. The district will save about $1.5 million in energy costs with the proposed improvements over the next 15 years.
Board member Mickey Angst questioned whether or not the district will be able to cover some of the costs with state or federal grant money. Marx indicated that that could add savings to the project; however, at this point, getting that money is not a guarantee. Angst was the sole vote against the project.
Superintendent Rosemary Porembo advised the board that the district is moving ahead with the integration of a Standards Aligned System for all students. After the meeting, Porembo said that the PA Department of Education will be emphasizing the SAS in the future. "One of our educational goals for next year is to include this in the professional development of all teachers and administrators," she added.
The board accepted the resignation of Evelyn Babish as the 100 Book Challenge Coordinator at the elementary school, effective immediately. They also added Amy Bensigner and Brian Veglia as substitute teachers for the 2009-2010 school year. Dana McFadden was approved as a lifeguard. The salary for Candice Gimbor, assistant swimming coach, was set at $1,450.
The Board also approved the purchase of two 25 second play clocks for the football stadium, not to exceed $4,000, and additional weight room equipment not to exceed $2,100. Athletic committee chair William Hunsicker noted that due to the two extra playoff games that the football team played in this year, the District received an additional $8,700.
"We decided as a committee that we would like that money to go back to the football program. We felt they deserved it," he said. According to Hunsicker, Coach Frank Damian suggested the purchase of the weight room equipment, which can be utilized by all Panther Valley athletes. Hunsicker added that they had seen the play clocks being used during the playoff games, and thought that they would be a good addition to the stadium.
The board also got an update from the cafeteria managers, who indicated that the district is currently running with a surplus of about $1,300. Marx added that although the district has purchased equipment, he still feels that by the end of the year, the cafeteria will be breaking even, as opposed to operating at a loss as it has done in previous years.