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Lehighton fills 2 board vacancies

Two new school board members are set to join the fold in Lehighton Area School District.

After hearing from nine candidates Thursday, the board appointed Jeremy Glaush and April Walker to fill vacancies created last month by the resignations of Larry Stern and Rita Spinelli.

Glaush and Walker will both serve the two years remaining on the terms.

“I hope everyone who interviewed tonight stays involved,” Glaush said after being appointed by a 5-1 vote. “We have committees and there are other avenues to contribute to the district. Your ideas may complement our ideas. My email will be open to anyone who wants to chat.”

Director Nathan Foeller was the lone board member to vote against the appointment of Glaush. Walker was approved by a 5-0 vote with Foeller abstaining. Director Stephen Holland was absent.

Candidates were asked two main questions; how can the district improve the academic achievement of students and the professional development of the staff and what do you think is the best way to address and reduce bullying within the district?

On the academic and professional development question, Walker, a 22-year district resident, said the district should lean on teachers, including retired educators, for their take on the topics.

“I believe we need to get back to teaching the objective truth and not a narrative or version of the truth that leaves out vital information,” she added. “I also think we need to start teaching subjects like math in a logical manner. I have two degrees and math was my strong suit in school, but at about the fifth- or sixth-grade level, I couldn’t help my son with math anymore because of the way it was being taught. Let’s come together to raise the standard for academics in Lehighton.”

Glaush, who has lived in the district for just over a decade, said he aims to work together with the administration in the spirit of transparency, honesty and with the best interest of the students in mind.

“That’s why we’re here,” Glaush said. “We’re here to bring it all together; the teachers, students, board and taxpayers. We need to work together with the teachers to obtain a shared goal of creating a successful learning environment for all.”

Glaush also advocated for board member representatives to be involved in collective bargaining negotiations for union contracts within the district.

“I think it will help the rest of the board understand why certain things are needed and other things are not,” he said. “I think the board that is set to be seated will work for the common good of the students and fair compensation to the teachers.”

As it pertains to bullying, Walker said encouraging students to have true empathy for one another could go a long way.

“We should encourage them to stand up for one another against bullies and continue education of the Safe2Say program,” Walker said.

Glaush, like many applicants Thursday, acknowledged that bullying would likely never completely go away. The district, he said, needs to be upfront and honest about the issues as they occur.

“If nobody believes something is going on, nobody will help you address it,” he said. “We also can’t show favoritism. I don’t care if you’re a good athlete or what your parents’ standing is in the community, everything needs to be handled equally.”

Board President Joy Beers said the questions for the candidates were crafted in conjunction with Fox Rothschild LLC, the legal firm representing the district. Each director in attendance received a scoring sheet at the beginning of the meeting. After the candidates spoke, scores were tallied and the top two scorers, Glaush and Walker, were put forward for a vote.

Directors could not ask individual questions of the candidates as they have in the past.

“Our solicitor advised us against that on the chance there a board member would ask an off-colored question or one that isn’t appropriate, so in this case we set the questions ahead of time so the solicitor could review them,” Beers said. “The solicitor is also the person who suggested a scoring system.”

Other applicants Thursday included Brian Shaner, D’Ache’ Zelrick, Gerry Berger, Janice Collins, Jason Baker, Kyle Elsasser and Zachary Kudla.

The board still has one open seat to fill. Wayne Wentz’s resignation earlier this year left a two-year seat on the board up for grabs during the general election.

Walter Zlomsowitch won that seat with 2,495 token votes as the Democratic Party did not nominate a candidate to oppose him.

He also won a four-year seat with 2,371 votes. Zlomsowitch is choosing the four-year seat, leaving the remaining directors to appoint someone to fill the two-year seat.

Lehighton has two meetings scheduled next week, one on Dec. 6 for reorganization and another on Dec. 8 for general business.

Jeremy Glaush is sworn in as a director by Amanda Citro during a Lehighton Area School District board meeting Thursday night. The board appointed Glaush and April Walker to fill the vacated two-year-terms of Larry Stern and Rita Spinelli. Walker, who left the meeting before the vote, will be sworn in at a future date. JARRAD HEDES/TIMES NEWS