A look at Pleasant Valley through her superintendents' eyes
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Left to right, two former Pleasant Valley School District superintendents, Dr. John Nye and Dr. Frank Pullo and present superintendent, Dr. Douglas Arnold, met with PVHS students for a question-and-answer session as part of the school's 50th anniversary celebration activities.
Pleasant Valley School District is celebrating 50 years since its consolidation, 1960-61 to 2010-2011, which is credited to John C. Mills.
As part of the district's yearlong celebration, a panel of the district's past superintendents and present superintendent, Dr. Douglas Arnold, was held in the high school's new auditorium. Of the five men who have sat in that chair, only Dr. John Nye (1974-1988), Dr. Frank Pullo (1995-2007) and Dr. Arnold (2007-) attended. Mills, PV's first superintendent from 1970-1974, died in 1991, and Ken Reid (1988 to1995) could not attend due to illness.
Mr. John Gress, PVHS's principal introduced each member of the panel and acted as mediator of the question and answer period with high school students who posed questions to the panel.
Dr. Arnold talked about John C. Mills, the first PVSD's superintendent.
"He was a 1927 Chestnuthill High School graduate and graduated from East Stroudsburg State College in 1933. He taught in Long Island and then came back to the area in 1936. He wanted to join all 36 one-room schools in the four townships to form a jointure. It took him from 1936 to 1966 to see that happen. He is the Father of Pleasant Valley," he said.
Dr. Arnold knew Mills. He had been his mother's principal and his father's boss.
"He was a brilliant man. In addition to being an educator, he was a cartoonist, a writer. You can see his impact here. One of our schools was named after him, which is now part of the high school."
He was Pleasant Valley's superintendent from 1970-74.
Dr. John Nye was PV's superintendent from 1974-1988.
"I looked up to John Mills immensely. I was teaching math and he contacted me about a vacancy as a principal. It was the best move I ever made," said Nye.
"When I came here there were less than 1,000 students in the district. I knew every kid's name in the high school's building," Nye said.
He recalled an incident where Dean Kresge, the captain of the football team at the time, approached him and told him that "We've got a problem outside." A group of guys arrived on motorcycles that were looking for trouble. Kresge rounded up the other members of the football team and they went out to let the group know that they couldn't mess with PV.
"They were very loyal to PV. You share a beautiful legacy with the students of my time and you," he told the students in attendance.
He said Dr. Arnold was a student of his in 1974.
When asked what he was most proud of during his tenure as superintendent he replied, "In 1978-79, we gave the school board 10 visionary goals. One of them was to have all our elementary school accredited. They are. We wanted a choral society. We have the Pleasant Valley Choral Society."
Dr. Frank Pullo was superintendent from 1995-2007.
"We gained 2,000 students while I was here. In my second year, we had a large tax increase. We weathered it very well. I'm very proud of my administrative team. We became a very diversified faculty and student body," he said.
Dr. Douglas Arnold came to PV in 2007 and continues to serve as superintendent today.
"I owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Pullo. It was he who urged me to apply for the position. I inherited a great administrative team," he said.
When he took PV's reins, there were 6,668 students. Today there are 5,800. Some of his district concerns are dealing with the shrinkage and facing budgeting concerns.
"There are some real uncertainties with Harrisburg. How do we see that you get the great education you deserve," he told the students.
He is proud of PV's heritage. PV has produced two nuclear physicists and leads the county schools in test scores.
Q: "How important is the relationship between the superintendent and the school board?"
Dr. Pullo said that the superintendent is the 10th member of the nine-member school board, which help keep the superintendent on track with goals.
Dr. Arnold said that the school board sets policy and is basically the superintendent's bosses.
Dr. Nye told them that there has got to be chemistry between the two in order to work and he says it wasn't there when he was superintendent. "It takes a lot of working together."
Q: "Where do you see PV in 10 years?"
Dr. Arnold said he sees it continuing to progress and evolve with a leadership role in the county. "It looks like enrollment will continue to shrink over the next few years before it levels out."
Q: One student asked Dr. Arnold if he thought the standardized dress code which is in its second year was legal.
Dr. Arnold said that in the Pennsylvania school code it does allow schools to set standardized dress and it was done to help create a positive educational environment. He added that more and more people are supporting it.
Dr. Nye said that when he was superintendent, it was the Student Council that developed the dress code and enforced it.
Dr. Pullo said that the idea of a standardized dress code came up about two or three times while he was superintendent and whenever they conducted surveys, the results always came back in support of it.
Q: "Why can we have money for a new basketball scoreboard in the gym and a new football field and not for new lockers and cafeteria?"
Dr. Arnold replied that it was hard to know what a score is when there's no scoreboard and there was quite a bit of money donated for the scoreboard. As for the artificial turf on the football field, he explained that most of the money for it came from grants and donations.
Q: "What do you think of use of technology in the classroom?"
Dr. Pullo: "It's critical. Technology is here to stay."
Dr. Nye: "I saw technology begin as nothing. Today, technology advances so fast. You have to be a technological student today. Take advice from an old guy-stay with it."
Dr. Arnold: Technology is obviously here to stay. It's a challenge to keep a handle on it."
Q: "How do you choose which classes get funded or cut?"
Dr. Pullo: "Low enrollment and don't meet criteria."
Dr. Arnold: You defer to the principals and superintendent of curriculum."
Q: "Has PV ever been a leader?"
Dr. Arnold: "We're the first school in the county to have a Cyber Academy."
Mr. Gress thanked all the students and members of the panel.
Later the superintendents and past school board directors were guests of honor at a reception.