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United adds Pre-K teachers, curriculum

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Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, 1:51 p.m.

United School Board last week hired instructors for its two new pre-kindergarten classrooms and also approved curriculum materials for use with the young students.

In a special Aug. 22 meeting, the board hired teachers Kayla Graham, who will be paid $40,000 on the first step of the bachelor's pay scale, and Kim Burda, who will receive $41,000 on the first step of the master's pay scale.

The district also agreed to adopt the Creative Curriculum System and to purchase a related assessment tool from Teaching Strategies at a cost of $4,936.67.

The cost of the materials and staffing for the two pre-kindergarten classrooms will be covered by the first year of a three-year Pre-K Counts state grant that has been approved for United.

The pre-K program is available for 4-year-old children from district households with an income no greater than 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

As of late last week, Superintendent Barbara Parkins said, the district still was looking for students to enroll, with at least 22 of the 30 available slots filled.

“We'd like to fill every slot and give kids this opportunity,” Parkins said.

The pre-K instruction is expected to begin on Sept. 23. Parkins noted the grant also will cover costs of an aide for each of the two classrooms. She said the district likely will recall aides who have been on furlough to fill those positions.

In a separate hiring, the school board employed Jill Shinsky for a dual teaching position requiring versatility. She'll serve as a reading specialist for grades K-12 and also as an art instructor at the high school at a salary of $41,000.

In other personnel matters, the board accepted Terri Myers' resignation as the elementary school nurse, effective immediately, with the stipulation that she may be asked to stay on for up to 60 days during the hectic return of students to district classrooms.

The board awarded Jean Dumm and Ashley Misterka the respective supplemental positions of media coordinator and media production coordinator, each paying $700.40.

Parkins explained the pair will oversee resumed production of a district newsletter after the publication was discontinued earlier as a cost-cutting measure. She said the goal is to produce two newsletters for the coming school year and mail them to parents at home.

United also inked an agreement with EduLink inc., which will provide an electronic teacher evaluation port for the district for an annual licensing fee of $2,616. The district also agreed to have the Armstrong-Indiana Drug and Alcohol Commission provide services for United's Student Assistance Program in 2013-14.

Ebensburg Auto Auction purchased an old 1995 truck from the district at a price of $925. The district accepted a $50 donation from Diamond Drugs for United's gifted program.

Two volunteers were approved: Jessica Riffer at the elementary school and Joshua Szelong with the junior high football program.

Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or

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