School board hires teachers, evaluates public comment policy

PAT FRIDGEN

Staffing in the Greencastle-Antrim School District was completed July 29 when the school board filled its final teaching vacancies. Five of the six new faculty members formerly taught at Scotland School for Veterans' Children, which closed a year ago. Under Act 50 of 2009, the teachers were given hiring priority in schools within a 17-mile radius of SSVC. One was hired in June and the remaining were: Heidi Cummings, primary school, $60,525 with seven years of experience; Edward Holland, middle school science, $66,063 with 10 years; Jennifer Steck, primary, $62,372, eight years; and Brian Tressler, high school social studies, $66,063 with 10 years. The other new teacher was Timothy Hill, high school technology education, master's with zero years of experience, $49,823. Several long-term subs were also hired: Tara Beckner, primary through Nov. 24, zero years of experience; Erin Grimes, primary through Dec. 10, one year; Alicia Hambright, primary through Jan. 21, zero years; Annette Measell, sixth grade through Feb. 25, one year; and Emily Trace, primary through Nov. 24, zero years.

Freedom of speech

The five board members present discussed but tabled action on allowing the public to speak on non-agenda items at meetings. Currently visitors are allowed to speak on agenda items for five minutes during the 'Recognition of Citizens' portion of the meeting. Anyone wishing to address a non-agenda item must get prior approval from the district. Supt. C. Gregory Hoover said the only value of the screening was to prevent citizens bringing up personnel issues, which could not be discussed publicly.

President Arnie Jansen asked that a new policy be adopted. William Thorne wanted a time limit for total presentations if a crowd appeared "or we could be here all night."

Jansen urged the board to be flexible depending on a given topic. After considering options, Jansen, Thorne, Brian Hissong, Joel Fridgen and Eric Holtzman favored three minutes per person with 21 minutes total set aside for comment as a general rule. They wanted input from the other four board members before voting. The item will be on the Aug. 19 agenda.

Jansen supported the relaxation of the rules. "It's been debated for seven years and has been voted down to change in the past. I hope this stimulates additional public input."

'Aye' votes

The board unanimously approved contracting with IntegraOne of Mechanicsburg to conduct an informational technology audit of the district's systems. For $17,899, the company will assess the network and infrastructure, staff and organization, and business systems. The firm was the low quote of three. The audit will occur in October.

The first approval of the student dress code also was recorded, with the only major change that no pictures of weapons would be allowed on clothing.

Business manager Richard Lipella announced that with the new federal healthcare law, G-ASD would let dependants up to age 26 enroll on their parents' medical insurance policies effective July 1, 2011. The addition was allowed during any renewal period after Sept. 23, 2010, which for Greencastle, is next July.

When asked how that change could affect rates, he answered, "We're claims-based. That's the key to it. It's a guess. It could be a five percent increase in costs."