The Tunkhannock Area School Board approved last Wednesday (Oct. 13) a timeline for looking for a new school district superintendent, following the announcement of Heather McPherson on Oct. 6 that she planned to step down on Jan. 14.
Board member John Burke addressed two tracks- one for naming an interim superintendent, and one for naming a full-time superintendent, whom he said very likely would not be able to start until July 1 of next year.
Burke said that first the board would advertise a search for superintendent Oct. 18-29, and expected to interview interim candidates Oct. 18-27, with the possible appointment of an interim superintendent at the next school board meeting, Oct. 27.
There would be two rounds of interviews for a full-time superintendent with the first round, Nov. 1-12; and the second round, Nov. 15-26, which could include building
visits with faculty and other interested parties allowed
The goal, according to Burke, would be to announce a candidate and vote on that candidate at the board’s Dec. 2 meeting.
He called the schedule “pretty aggressive.”
Board vice president Holly Arnold, who ran the meeting because president Philip Farr was absent, said the board was aware that with the upcoming election there was an expectation of at least two new members being added after the Nov. 2 election, and she underscored that they would be involved with the interview process, same as sitting board members.
Board member William Prebola said, “I think we should try to move on this quickly.”
Arnold said there was no action required on the timetable which stood as presented.
In other business in the virtual meeting conducted by Zoom, the board:
The public was given an opportunity for input, and one parent said that she took issue with board member Rob Parry at a previous meeting calling people who dissented as “whackos.” She said, you are coming across as a bully and setting a bad example for our students.
George Yuhas read a letter of admonishment with 10 items of concern, and Number 7, was that “the board is being drug around by a bunch of whack jobs” a statement attributed to Parry.
Yuhas said as a former Marine, “Your intimidation does not work on me.”
Another parent asked the board in its conversation to “stay classy.”
The comment was followed up by another parent who desired that all people raising issues, also needed to stay classy. “We need to learn how to be kind to each other,” she said.
If you drive by Sherwood Chevrolet, Buick, GMC in Tunkhannock, you may notice a new car lot with not a lot of new cars.
The new car shortage is being seen at dealerships all over the country, including Sherwood. General Manager Roy King said the shortage is due to issues with supply chain, and a semiconductor computer chip shortage, which has held up production at a lot of automotive plants.
“The new vehicles need these chips to operate,” King said. “You’re seeing plants all over the world affected. The demand for new vehicles is very high, but like a lot of things, the supply chain can’t keep up with the need.”
The new vehicle shortage has been going on for most of 2021, but according to King has gotten worse during the last couple of months because of the semiconductor shortage.
Even with barely any new vehicles on the lot, Sherwood is still doing its best to fill the demand for new cars. King said the sales rate for the past year has not necessarily been impacted by the slowing supply chain.
“If you look at the 2020 and 2021 numbers, the sales rate really hasn’t dropped from year-to-year,” King said. “A lot of those incoming units that we get never see the lot because the inventory is coming in and going right back out.”
King said the wait time for a vehicle currently varies. When a person signs on for a new car, it could be built and in the pipeline already. If it’s not, the wait time could be a little while, sometimes more than a month.
“We have a wonderful customer base, which understands everything the world is going through right now,” King said. “Given the circumstances, there are a lot of challenges, but the staff here is great and is working with all customers to fill their needs.”
King said it is hard to tell as to when the supply chain issues will be solved. He said most experts think the problems could linger well into 2022 before inventory returns to normal speed.
So, if you’re looking to see a Sherwood lot full of new cars to browse, don’t expect that anytime soon.
“Literally, a truckload of new cars will come to us, and most will go out for delivery as soon as they arrive,” King said. “The cars that aren’t sold would go right to the lot, but because the supply and demand is so out-of-whack you’re not seeing the lot get replenished.”
Even during this period of supply shortage, King said Sherwood has remained busier than ever.
“Our service department has been seeing increased calls along with our sales department,” King said. “Overall, we have a great staff which has been willing to help customers in any way necessary. It’s certainly a crazy time, but we are getting through it as best we can.”
Both King and the rest
of Sherwood Chevrolet employees hope the shortage ends sooner rather than later, and the new car lot can be full once again.
Saturday night was a big night to raise some funds for the Tunkhannock Area School District with a live auction at Stonehedge.
School board member William Prebola greeted the guests, and noted the Tiger Fund for Excellence had been started in 2017 following some private conversations with Rod Azar, about programs in the district needing some things that the district’s budget was not able to provide.
The conversation expanded to a dedicated group of Tunkhannock community members and business owners who claimed there was a need to identify and privately fund worthwhile extracurricular, cocurricular and STEM related projects and programs within the Tunkhannock Area School District which are not funded by the district’s operating budget.
Prebola said the Tiger Fund for Excellence works closely with the school
district’s leadership to identify potential projects and
programs, which it then independently approves and privately funds.
Some $110,000 had been raise prior to Saturday night’s auction, and the numbers are still being tallied, from the auction of some remarkable gifts.
Prebola noted the last gala event was in 2018, “but COVID put a real damper on things.”
After identifying a list of persons to thank, Prebola passed the microphone to Azar, who said, “This wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the ball of energy I’m standing next to.”
He underscored “Some really awesome gifts that could be yours” including two weeks in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Prebola is chairman of the Board of Directors for the Tiger Fund for Excellence. Other directors include Robert Brown, Thomas Kukuchka, Robert Parry, Arthur Sherwood, Sally Steele, Rodman Azar, Richard Daniels, Barbara Maculloch, William Ruark, Donald Sherwood and Christine Stroka.
Wyoming County saw a rise in COVID-19 deaths during the past week.
For the period of Oct. 12-18, the county saw 75 positive cases of COVID-19, which is a decrease from 89 cases reported the previous week. The new cases bring the county total to 2,578 since the pandemic began.
There were two reported COVID-19 deaths in the county during the seven-day period. The deaths were reported on Tuesday, Oct.12 and Thursday, Oct. 14. This brings the total to 59 deaths since Wyoming County’s first reported COVID-19 death in April 2020. This is the third straight week at least one death has been recorded in the county. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there are no current COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county.
Wyoming County Emergency Management Director Gene Dziak said the recent rise in deaths has been following a trend seen all over the state.
“No one wants to see any deaths reported any day,” Dziak said. “There has been a rise reported all over the state during the past couple of weeks, and we are seeing some effects of that here.”
When deaths are reported the DOH cautions the public that the death may not have occurred on that specific day. That is the day the death was officially recorded as a COVID-19 cause of death to the DOH.
Like every county in Pennsylvania, Wyoming County remains in the high spread category of transmission according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Masks are recommended indoors for everyone, even fully vaccinated individuals in areas with high transmission rates.
According to CDC data, the incidence rate of COVID currently stands at 294.8 cases per 100,000 residents, which is a decrease from 332.2 cases during the previous seven day period. The positivity rate for the week stood at 14.9 percent, which is a decrease from 16.1 percent the previous week.
“The mitigation rates at the county level continue to remain in place,” Dziak said. “We’re hoping the decrease seen this week will continue over the next couple of weeks. Because it certainly has been a roller coaster ride.”
Vaccination rates in the county have continued to rise over the past couple of weeks. According to CDC data, 65.4 percent of county residents ages 18 and older are fully vaccinated, which is a 0.5 percent increase from the previous week. 75.2 percent of county residents 18 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine. Dziak has said his goal is to get 70 percent of the county population fully vaccinated.
“It’s great to see the vaccination numbers creeping up a bit over the past couple of weeks,” Dziak said. “We still have a little ways to go, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to reach the goal.”
For anyone who has not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine, but would like to receive one, they are encouraged to contact their family doctor to schedule an appointment, or call a local pharmacy to see if the shot is being offered and if appointments are available.
The Lackawanna Trail School District clarified the policy on students’ use of virtual school days.
At a virtual school board meeting on Tuesday night (Oct. 12), Superintendent Matthew Rakauskas said so far the districts’ synchronous virtual option for students who prefer not to learn in-person due to the pandemic has been going well. With this option, in-person learners are allowed to use three virtual days per semester that will not count as absences. Students must have their cameras on and be participating in class to be counted as present.
Both Rakauskas and principal of student management Shannon Kuchak said they have been receiving emails from parents about what happens if a student were to get sick after they have used the three virtual days.
“Even if they have used up their virtual days, we still encourage them to log-in to their classes so they don’t fall behind, “ Kuchak said. “The days will be counted absences however, to avoid the possibility of students pivoting to virtual when they feel like don’t coming to school.”
Kuchak said students’ will need a doctor’s note to excuse the absence just like a normal school absence. Rakauskas said he is pleased with the results of the synchronous virtual option so far, as it has helped students who needed to quarantine due to contact tracing keep up in school.
“I’m glad we decided to keep this option,” Rakauskas said. “I have heard from people in other school districts who don’t have this option that kids are falling behind should they have to quarantine. We were prepared for situations like this, and I think it says a lot about us as a district.”
District solicitor John Audi reaffirmed to the public that after further research and council, Trail will continue to comply with the Department of Health mask mandate for K-12 schools. Audi said that unless the order is struck down in a court of law, it is a legal mandate that must be followed.
“Masking in schools is a very polarizing issue,” Audi said. “That doesn’t change the fact that this district could lose a ton of liability should we not follow the order and something happens. That could be financially devastating for Lackawanna Trail.”
Audi also reassured that legality of the mask mandate is making its way through the courts. If a court rules the mask mandate is illegal, Trail will be able to move back to its original health and safety plan in which masks were optional.
In other happenings across the district, Elementary principal Brian Kearney announced the school’s Halloween parade will take place Friday, Oct. 29 at 10 a.m. Business manager Keith Glynn also said the district is greatly in need of school bus drivers. Anyone interested in applying should reach out to the district business office
In other business, the board approved:
The Lackawanna Trail School Board will next meet for a work session on Monday, Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m. The Zoom link will be posted at www.ltsd.org.