A number of parents registered concerns Thursday at a Tunkhannock Area School Board meeting held Thursday in the high school auditorium.
Following the published agenda, a number of parents addressed the board and Superintendent Heather McPherson regarding the need to get back to in-person teaching.
Jennifer Brody, who said she had daughters in eighth and ninth grades acknowledged it has not been easy navigating life during a pandemic, and many people are scared with current political overtones complicating things even more.
She presented an extensive list of questions ending with a plea to return to in-school instruction as soon as possible.
McPherson asked Brody if she could email her list “so we can wrap our heads around your concerns and what we’re doing to address them.”
Board president Phil Farr said “The purpose of this board is to have our students to be in school getting the best education possible. That is where we want to be.”
Rob Sawicki who has three students in the district said, “What’s going on right now isn’t working” and he wondered aloud how other neighboring districts seem to faring better.
Board member John Burke acknowledged his frustration. “I’d like my kids to be in school five days a week, too. I believe we’re making progress.”
Another parent exercised a concern about the district contracting with someone in the southern tier of New York to offer specific instruction for a specialty course. She, too, felt it wasn’t working.
Board member Holly Arnold said that clearly the district would prefer to use its own staff if at all possible.
John Scholz of Mehoopany said he just wanted to applaud “everything you’re doing to keep our kids safe,” but he wondered aloud about why the district was understaffed.
McPherson acknowledged that part of the issues was social distancing and needing to space staff out accordingly.
He said, “My straight A student is having a hard time of it.”
Scholz added, “I hope you will ask parents to help you come up with solutions.”
McPherson acknowledged her phone line was always open and she would welcome suggestions that might be considered.
She re-iterated that she can be reached at 570-836-3111, ext. 1000
Advertised on the agenda, the board acknowledged completion of a Luzerne Intermediate Unit #18 election ballot.
From the superintendent’s report, the board voted to
- rescind the appointment of Alana Boyles as a long-term substitute for the second semester of 2020-21;
- approve the retirement of Mischelle Carpenter as administrative secretary in the central administration center;
- approve the termination of employee #1462; and
- approve the following volunteers for 2020-21 (Al Dymond, David Holdredge, Robert Hug, Jaime LaChase, Melodie Madus, Joan Rogers, and Eric Tschantz).
In a supplemental agenda item, the board approved a sub contract with Luzerne Intermediate Unit #18 for the services of Annie Moran to cover an anticipated maternity leave at the primary center. The cost is not to exceed $80,000 to cover prorated salary and benefits.
Board member William Prebola acknowledged that the extracurricular committee had met the previous Monday, and acknowledged all winter sports were currently following the governor’s health and safety guidelines.
He acknowledged that even though as a Wyoming Valley Conference school which does not mandate masks, Tunkhannock Area will comply with competition from other conferences out of courtesy.
He also noted that sports audience attendance protocols were being followed, and he thanked everyone for their cooperation in that regard.
High school principal Todd Bosscher gave a big shout out to athletic director Ken Janiszewski for developing the policy and to others for following it. He also acknowledged that all home varsity competition would be carried on the district’s YouTube channel at www.tasd.net