As of Monday night, there’s an opening on the nine-member Huntingdon Area School Board.
Debra Clark, who represented Region II and served as board vice president, submitted a letter of resignation, dated Sept. 9. The vote to accept Clark’s resignation was unanimous.
Board president Dr. Ronald Long read Clark’s letter during the brief special voting session.
“It has been a pleasure being a part of this board and serving our community,” Clark wrote. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished ... and I have no doubt the board will continue to make decisions that advance our district.”
Clark was re-elected to a four-year term on the board in November 2017. She was named vice president during the board’s reorganization meeting in December 2019.
In her letter Clark asked Long to please express to the other board members the value she holds for the relationships she built with them. She also said she “has nothing but respect and admiration for all district employees and wishes everyone the best of luck.”
“I just want to point out what an asset Deb has been and wish her well,” board member Dennis Plane said.
“She’s was been a great vice president and certainly a big help to me, no doubt about it,” Long said.
The Huntingdon Area School District is now seeking candidates and has posted the vacancy on its home page. HASD’s Region II covers Brady and Henderson townships, all of Mill Creek borough and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th precincts in Huntingdon Borough.
The person appointed will serve as a board member for the remainder of Clark’s term, which expires at the end of November 2021.
A form for applications is posted on the district’s home page. Interested persons need to send a completed form to board secretary Janet Shaffer by 3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, via email at email@example.com or by mail, 2400 Cassady Ave., Suite 2, Huntingdon PA 16652.
Clarks’ departure necessitated selection of a new vice president, to serve until the annual reorganization in December. Cindy Dell was nominated for the post and appointed by unanimous decision.
In addition, Janice Metzgar was selected to take Clark’s seat on the board’s extra curricular/athletic committee.
Following the special meeting, the board moved on with its monthly works session. Long noted Monday’s work session was the first in months.
District administrators provided insight into the first couple of weeks of the new school year. The district is currently following a hybrid plan that places students in classrooms two days a week. A remote option is also available.
Building principals reported to the board that this unusual school year is off to a good start and commended students, teachers and staff for their efforts.
“It has been refreshing in this crazy time,” Southside Elementary School principal Theresa Montgomery said.
Chris Evans, the district’s director of pupil services, gave special recognition to teachers, and staff, noting 125 IEP (individualized education plans) meetings were conducted within the first two weeks of school.
“We made sure we didn’t miss a beat with services,” he said.
John Bilich, addressing online learning within the district, reported 282 are enrolled full-time in the online program, 131 at the elementary level and 151 in grades sixth through 12.
Bilich said the program didn’t have the smoothest launch, as it was lacking key software.
“But we are 100% up and running now,” he said.
As the district’s athletic director, Bilich said he continues to seek ways for Bearcats fans to enjoy athletic events.
“This roller coaster is changing daily,” Bilich said. “Parents, if you’re listening, I’m advocating daily to get you into these events to watch your athletes in person. We’re doing everything we can, that, if we can’t have spectators at events, we’re at least streaming things.”
Bilich said the steaming technology presents some issues of its own but noted everybody is doing their best.
Director of education Kim Rieffannacht said if Monday’s meeting had been in person, and not via Zoom, she would have asked for a round of applause for the administrative team.
“They’ve moved mountains to help their students, staff and families,” Rieffannacht said. “It’s been truly fantastic and above and beyond. They’ve really put in the effort.”
Rieffannacht also reported to the board that the district’s pre-k program is now at full capacity.
“We’ve been working toward that since we started,” she said. “We are very excited to announce that. Anybody else interested will be on a waiting list until a spot opens up.”
The program operates from Southside Elementary School.
Long noted that Rieffannacht is soon to leave the district, noting her resignation is among those listed on the agenda for the board’s regular meeting scheduled for Sept. 21.
“We congratulate you for moving on, thank you for all you’ve done for us. We appreciate it and you deserve a round of applause,” Long said.
At the close of the work session, superintendent Fred Foster said he couldn’t be more proud of HASD team at the start of the new school year.
“You couldn’t ask for anything more than what we’ve seen over the last two weeks,” Foster said. “From my heart, we can’t thank you enough.”
Long said the board appreciates everything everybody is doing, from administration down. “We know it’s been tough going, that this hasn’t been easy times for anybody,” Long said. “We do commend you for everything you are doing, it’s well appreciated.”
Rebecca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.