The Mount Union Area School District’s top administrator and a state association representative thanked board members Monday night for their commitment to Mount Union area students.

For School Director Recognition Month, Superintendent Dr. Amy Smith presented each of the nine board members with a certificate of appreciation and voiced her appreciation for their work.

“I know you take a lot of time and effort and probably a lot of heat for some of the decisions that are made but I can honestly say everyone on our board has the students’ best interests at heart,” Smith said.

Erin Eckerd, member services manager for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, joined the meeting via Zoom to express her appreciation for the Mount Union board and all school directors across the state.

“The members of each local school board are a key part of the district’s administration team, making informed decisions that shape public schools and provide a pathway to success for every student,” Eckerd said.

She said all school directors are volunteers and receive no pay for their work, which Eckerd said amounts to 10 hours a month on average.

“The majority (of board members) cite their desire to give back or contribute to public education as the main motivation for their service,” she said, adding the COVID-19 pandemic has created more responsibility for local school boards.

“Boards are tasked with making critical decisions quickly with the best information available,” Eckerd said. “Your efforts don’t go unnoticed.”

Smith said recognition month is usually celebrated with a dinner in honor of board members.

“We’ve moved the appreciation dinner further down the road to when restrictions are lifted a bit,” she said.

During her presentation to the board, Eckerd reminded them of the various professional development, advocacy and networking opportunities available through PSBA’s online workshops and events.

Mindful of the approaching winter storm, the board moved along Monday’s meeting — the first of 2021 — at a quick pace and adjourned at 7:20 p.m.

Transportation

The board approved a series of revised pay rates for bus contractors for the current school year.

Two buses were removed from the agreement with Morgan’s Bus Service effective Jan. 8 and payment was okayed for five days for the two buses for January 4-8. There’s no change in the service provided to students attending New Day Charter School or non-public schools.

One bus each was added to the agreement with J&L Rhone Services and Smith-Long Busing LLC effective for Jan. 11-15.

The district has also entered into new contracts with Ty Myers Busing and Heck-Meyers Busing, for one bus each for 89 days effective Jan. 18.

Election

A total of four MUASB positions are up for election in the 2021 cycle. All persons interested in running were advised that the first day to circulate petitions is Feb. 16 and the last day is March 9.

There is one seat up for election in Region 1 and in Region 2. Two seats are up for election in Region 3. All four positions come with a four-year term.

Region 1 includes the boroughs of Mapleton, Newton Hamilton and Kistler and Wayne Township. Region 2 covers Mount Union Borough and Region 3 covers Shirleysburg Borough and Shirley and Union townships.

Tax rate

Looking ahead toward the 2021-2022 school year, the board adopted a resolution to not increase the district’ real estate tax rate above the index established by the state Department of Education. The index for next school year is 4.5 percent.

Other business

The board hired Mariah Reihart as a first grade teacher, retroactive to Jan. 4. Vicki Valentine was named mentor to Reihart and Mindy Horne was named mentor to biology teacher Emalie Hicks, a recent hire.

The board accepted the resignation of Jill Wallace as paraeducator/LPN effective Jan. 29 and authorized the administration to advertise the position.

Students teachers for the spring semester were approved: McKynley Miller (secondary science with Rob Ohawk) and Kathryn Slade (secondary English with Candi Gilliland), both from Juniata College; and Andrew Harven (elementary with Alesha Yocum) and Bailee Parson (elementary with Sybil Miller), both from Shippensburg University.

Meetings

The board has scheduled a special session at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8, for the purpose of addressing personnel and general business. The board’s monthly workshop will follow.

The next regular board meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22.

The Feb. 8 and Feb. 22 meetings will be held via Zoom for the public and in-person for board members and other school officials.

Rebecca can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.

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