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First reading of drug testing policy passes, but not without questions

Published July 23. 2010 05:00PM

Although a first reading of a new drug testing policy passed with a vote of 5-2 at last night's board meeting, several board members questioned whether or not this policy is the right thing for the Panther Valley School District.

The policy, which would implement random drug testing for students who participate in extra-curricular activities and/or have parking privileges is similar to the policy recently passed by the Tamaqua Area School District. The program would also be available to parents to voluntarily have their children tested.

Director Bill Hunsicker questioned why the testing wasn't mandatory for the entire school population. "If we can't do it 100 percent, then it's flawed," he said. Superintendent Rosemary Porembo said that it cannot be required for co-curricular activities, or activities that are required to graduate. "So, we can make the dress code 100 percent, but not this," asked Hunsicker. Director Donna Trimmel expressed concerns about the privacy of the testing, and how long term the impact of a "hot" test could be. "In five years, someone goes for a job, and they say they're not going to hire them because they tested positive," she said. Director Irene Genther asked if the policy should be sent back to the committee for further review.

Board president Jeff Markovich called it a "step in the right direction." "In five years, we can have a student come back here and say thanks to that positive test, I turned my life around, or in five years, we can have another Panther Valley student that's a statistic," he said. Genther and Hunsicker voted against the approval. Trimmel, Markovich, Dave Hiles, Anthony Ponish, and Mickey Angst voted to approve the first reading. The policy will be on the agenda again next month.

In other business, the board accepted several resignations, including the newly appointed grade 6 learning support teacher, Selene Polaha, Denise Drum and Jo Lynn Gazo, substitute secretaries, Cyril Leonard, substitute custodian, Janet Sager and Denise Drum, substitute instructional aides, Molly Damian, Jennifer Burns, Becky Kaufman, and Glenn Wagner, substitute cafeteria aides, and Christa Mantz and Tricia Janowiak, lifeguards. The board tabled the resignation of Jack Ruzicka, football equipment manager. The board approved the resignation of Sandra Koch, as a summer pre-kindergarten teacher, retroactively to June 22 and ratified Nicole Hajcak as a teacher for the summer pre-kindergarten program at the elementary school from July 12 to July 23.

The board hired Raymond Bressi as the high school disciplinarian, effective at the start of the 2010-2011 school year, at a salary of $22,000. Amber Forster was hired as a full-time permanent elementary grade 3 teacher, effective at the start of the 2010-2011 school year, at a salary of $34,685. Angst questioned why other teachers who are residents of Panther Valley and who have served the school as substitutes were not hired for the position. Diane Buchman was approved as the 100 Book Challenge Coordinator for the 2010-2011 school year at a stipend of $1500. The board approved the onsite computer technician services fee of $71,988.37 for the 2011 school year.

Shelly Sassaman, PA-C-CDE, Dr. Peter Baddick, and Ron Slivka, MSN, BNP_BC were hired as the school physicians for the 2010-2011 school year, at a stipend of $2,000. Dr. Richard Vermillion was hired as the school dentist for the 2010-2011 school year, at a stipend of $600.

The board approved the following transfers: Lisa Yarnall, from server to dishwasher/vending, Brenda Lasky, from high school dishwasher/vending to elementary school dishwashwer/general worker, Rita Benek, dishwasher/general worker to server, and Melissa Leslie server to general worker. Sally Jones was hired as a high school cashier at a rate of $12.85/hour for 5.25 hours per day. Linda Focht transferred from 2nd shift high school custodian to 1st shift high school/pool custodian, effective July 23.

The board approved the 2010-2011 Kistler transportation bus driver and bus monitor employee list.

The board established a student activity account for a recycling club. The club's mission is "to create an awareness and understanding of recycling and how it will help students make wise decisions concerning conservation of our environment."

The board approved the retention of the Vanak Detective Agency for the 2010-2011 school year at a rate of $15.25 per man hour for unarmed security.

Porembo also announced that the school did not receive the state grant that it applied for to fund the solar energy project; however, the school is still waiting to hear if they will receive funding from PPL, which would enable them to pursue the project, although on a smaller scale.

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