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Board fails to renew annual JROTC pact

Published June 29. 2012 05:02PM

An attempt to renew annual contracts for Panther Valley School District's Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program died Thursday after one school board member questioned the action and another followed in her footsteps.

A motion to renew the contract of JROTC Senior Instructor Kenneth J. Markovich failed, even though the vote was by a 3-2 in favor.

Board President Jeff Markovich, who is Kenneth Markovich's brother, and his wife, board member Michelle Markovich, abstained from voting. Board members David Hiles and Koreen Nalesnik were absent.

That left board members Irene Genther, who lead the opposition to the contract, and R. Mickey Angst, who voted against the contract.

Board members Anthony DeMarco, Bill Hunsicker and Richard Zabroski voted in favor of the new contract.

However, contracts require five favorable votes to be passed, so the motion failed.

Genther, who first asked that the contracts be tabled, a motion that failed by a 2-5 vote, said she believes the JROTC instructors' contracts, which she said include a salary increase, should not be settled before the district has settled a new teacher's contract.

Hunsicker and others explained that the U.S. Army sets the salaries according to a formula, with the school district being reimbursed for half the cost.

A new contract for Assistant JROTC Instructor Joseph A. Jordan also failed, this one with Genther, Angst and Jeff Markovich voting no, and Zabroski, Hunsicker and DeMarco voting yes.

DeMarco accused Genther of wanting to eliminate the JROTC program; Genther said that was not true.

The contracts were to begin as of Aug. 1 and end June 30, 2013. The board plans to take up the matter again when it meets on July 26. After the public meeting Demarco said he hoped area veterans would attend the meeting to support the program.

In other matters, the board began it's public meeting with a moment of silence to honor first-grade student Nolan Ritchie of Coaldale, who accidentally drowned on June 22 while swimming in the Lehigh River with his grandmother, Wanda Wentz, of Lehighton, who also drowned.

Also on Thursday, Superintendent Rosemary Porembo announced the district has received a $39,000 grant from Race to the Top. The federal program awards the grants to school districts to develop teaching assessment evaluations.

Also, the board voted on various bill payments, and Porembo gave an update on the district's activities in wrapping up this school year, and preparing for the start of school in the fall.

The board also discussed a letter from state Rep. Jerry Knowles, who responded to the school board's request for information about pending state legislation that could affect the district. The board thanked Knowles for responding, but was disappointed that he did not indicate his stance on the proposed laws, although he described each.

After Angst complained that he did not receive a copy of Knowles' letter, Genther asked Jeff Markovich to read the letter aloud, which he did.

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