Community forum on school safety and security set for Jan. 26

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Punxsutawney Area School District, in cooperation with Punxsutawney Borough, will be holding a School and Community Forum on Feb. 26, to discuss the issue of school safety and security.

"This event will take place at 7 p.m. in the Punxsutawney Area High School (PAHS) auditorium and will include a panel of local first responders and other local officials," said Dr. Keith Wolfe,
Punxsutawney Area School District superintendent.

"The purpose of this forum is to discuss the district’s ongoing concern for and attention to the safety of our students and staff," Wolfe added, noting that the district wants to reassure parents and community members that they are working together in an effort to proactively prepare for crisis situations such as the ones that have been seen in the news as of late.

"This is going to be a panel discussion, and I'm going to set up a moderator, who will introduce everyone who participates as we go," he said.

Wolfe said he wants those in attendance to submit questions on index cards when they first enter the auditorium.

"The moderator will go through the questions and eliminate duplicates," he said.

Wolfe said that so far, the panel consists of Jeff
Burkett, Jefferson County district attorney; a representative from Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police; Carl Gotwald, Jefferson County sheriff, who has a family matter but is still going to try and attend; Tracy Zents, Jefferson County Emergency Services director; Punxsutawney Borough Police Chief Tom Fedigan; members of Punxsutawney Borough Council and Larry Chenoga, council president; and Gary Conrad, school board president, and other members of the school board.

"I've also sent invitations to State Sen. Joe Scarnati, Pennsylvania Senate president pro-tempore; Rep. Sam Smith, speaker of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives and Rep. Glen 'GT' Thompson, representative to the 5th Congressional District," Wolfe said, adding that he hasn't heard back from them as of yet.

Wolfe said he hopes there will be a large turnout from the community so its members can give their input regarding this very important topic of school security.

Also, at Tuesday's meeting, the school board approved:

• The TruGreen proposal for maintenance of the football field at Jack LaMarca Stadium and the practice fields at a cost of $8,010, the same pricing as allotted for the last two years.

• Apple Computers — iPads and TV paid with RLIS and title funds at a cost of $26,166.49.

• Rand McNally — wall map combos paid for with RLIS funds at a cost of $5,461.60.

• A free breakfast for two days during PSSA testing — dates to be determined based on testing schedule.

• Purchase orders:
— Apple Computer — open purchase order for repair parts at a cost of $15,000.

— Five-year renewal with Verizon for WAN service keeping all schools at 100 Mbps, except the main campus area, and increasing it to 1,000 Mbps at a cost of $2,541.38 per month, a savings of $244.80 per month, after the E-Rate discount, over the district's current costs.

— Renewal of the middle school guidance copier con-tract for a three-year period at $225.53 per month, a savings of $26.99 per month over the current contract.

— An upgrade of the CSIU student information system agreement — moving to hosted service.

Additional costs for 2012-13 will be $13,275 for conversion and support.
Annual increases will be $5,063 each year over the current contract price of $11,077.56 through 2016-17 to reach full package price.

• The hiring of Tessa Ellis, 6-2, as a full-time elementary teacher at Bachelor Step One, with Jack White and Penny Pifer voting no and Gary Conrad, Jim Baun, Lesa Conner, Roberta Dinsmore, Francis Molinaro and Bob Pascuzzo voting yes.

Melissa Snyder was absent.

• The hiring of Deborah Barilar as a part-time van monitor.
• The creation of four new Special Education Instructional Assistant positions due to student needs.

The positions will range for 3.5 to 5.5 hours per day and will be funded with ACCESS monies.

• The resignation of Aaron Hendricks as a part-time cleaner, effective Feb. 11.

Hendricks requested to remain active on the sub list.

• Erika Olson as a mentor for Jessie Zameroski at a stipend of $400 for the year.

• Sherry Spicher as the head teacher at Bell Township School.

• Additions and deletions from the substitute lists.

• The official local district holidays under Section 1502 of the Pennsylvania Public School Code of Dec. 24, 26, 27, 30 and 31, 2013, as part of the district's annual school calendar.

• The school calendar for the 2013-14 school year, which incorporates the "official local holidays."

• Alternate education for a student discipline matter.

• Conferences and field trips.

• Payment of bills from the general fund and the cafeteria fund.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Central Office Board Room.