When the Tussey Mountain School Board meets for its regular monthly session next Monday night board members will be asked to vote on continuing the position of School Resource Officer (SRO). The topic highlighted last night’s board work session held in the district conference room in East Saxton.
The SRO program, which has been a debated issue both at school board and Saxton Borough Council sessions, is currently held by borough police officer Dave Buseck. For the past three years the SRO program at Tussey has been financed through a special grant secured from the state Department of Education by the borough.
The school board is poised to vote on the “establishment” of an SRO position for the district next Monday night but no action on who will hold the position will take place until sometime this summer, noted board member Brenda Folk who, along with board members Roy McCabe and John Baughman, compose a special SRO fact-finding committee (the trio also serve on the district’s policy and curriculum committee.)
In the meantime, the committee in unison with the district administration, is working on a job description for the SRO position which will help guide the school board in the hiring of the district SRO.
District Superintendent Dr. Gary Dawson explained that “By continuing the (SRO) position, the administration can explore negotiation discussions with Saxton Borough for this position.”
In response to an inquiry from one member of the audience Dawson noted that the SRO matter had been aired in two public meetings held on April 22 during which the vast majority of those in attendance supported the SRO program and the retention of Officer Buseck.
At the two forums the public aired its backing for the SRO program while crediting Buseck with having the qualifications to carry out the job which involved not only dealing with threats and other security matters, but also being a proactive person who gets along with the students.
It was noted that Buseck, a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), strong student advocate, mentor and counselor, has earned both faculty and student trust in his role of SRO at Tussey.
Also offering support for both the SRO program and Officer Buseck at one of the public meetings was Eva Sichko, president of the Tussey Mountain Education Association (TMEA.) Sichko and others in attendance considered the SRO position important and well worth the minimal cost that would be involved in financing the position.
Officer Buseck attended last night’s meeting in an unofficial position and told The Daily News after the meeting that the borough council was anxiously awaiting on the school board’s decision to continue the SRO program and hopefully, retain the borough officer in the position.
Buseck said that the borough would not be taking any official action on the matter until the school board votes.
Turning to other matters Dawson reviewed a lengthy agenda the school board will act on next week.
Highlighting some of those agenda motions include the acceptance of a resignation letter from board member Jimmy Hodge as vice president due to job commitments (the vice president position will also be filled next week,) and a letter of intent to retire submitted by high school special education instructor Susan McCool.
Board action will also be required to advertise for a secondary math and Science certified instructor due to a shortage at Tussey, approve a long list of positions including head football coach Anthony Sottasante and several assistant football coaches.
The approval of the issuance of diplomas to 67 members of the Class of 2019 will also take place. Baccalaureate services will be held Sunday evening, June 2 followed by the commencement program set for Tuesday evening, June 4.
After being close for a few years the school district is prepared to reopen several technology/shop class rooms but will also eliminate/curtail some district-operated vocational programs due to a lack of student interest. Responding to an inquiry from TMEA President Sichko, Superintendent Dawson said that a plan is in place to restructure personnel impacted by the proposal as well as the impact on potential class size alterations.
Prior to the start of the workshop Karen Devine, Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) member services manager, presented a 30-minute presentation about revisions in the association’s Standards for Effective School Governance which the board plans to adopt next week. Also, the board will act on a required district Special Education Plan for 2019 through 2022, as required by the state Department of Education.
In her presentation, Devine outlined seven important principles in overseeing an effective education system: act ethically, communicate clearly, plan thoughtfully, govern effectively, promote public education, lead responsibly and evaluate continuously.
Following the close of the work session an executive session for personnel matters was called.
Ron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.