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Public invited to rededication of renovated United Elementary

Jeff Himler
| Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, 12:15 p.m.

The public is invited to United Elementary School Tuesday to witness a rededication of the building following a recent renovation of the 1973 structure.

A ceremony celebrating the project's completion will begin at 7 p.m. in the elementary cafeteria/gym. Community members then will have an opportunity to participate in a guided tour of the upgraded building, reminisce at the school's “Memory Lane” display and enjoy tunes performed by the elementary faculty band.

United Elementary School originally was dedicated on December 9, 1973, created through the consolidation of four older elementary schools: Armagh, Brush Valley, Garfield and Wehrum. The current elementary campus serves about 600 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.

Staffing for the elementary school's two new pre-kindergarten classrooms prompted action at the regular United School Board meeting on Sept. 10.

The board retroactively voted to recall furloughed aide Pamela Strong effective Aug. 26 but removed a similar motion regarding a second aide from the agenda.

Board President Don Davis said after the meeting that a deadline had not yet expired for the second, unnamed aide to respond to a certified letter to indicate whether the laid-off worker wanted to return to work at the district. He said, if the response was positive, action to recall the aide would be considered at the board's October meeting.

Two aides were needed at the district due to personnel changes resulting from the addition of the pre-kindergarten classrooms.

Staffing of the classrooms with two teachers and two aides is being funded for three years through a state Pre-K Counts grant program. Teachers recently were hired for the classrooms.

In other personnel action, the school board hired three long-term substitute teachers. Spencer Sadler will fill in for high school English teacher Jodi Conrad, who was approved for an unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks beginning Sept. 6. Stephanie Martin was hired for one semester as a substitute for art instructor and reading specialist Jill Shinsky, who will begin an unpaid leave Sept. 30. Andrew Parkins is covering for junior high learning support teacher Marilyn Nesmith, who began a leave of about six months on Sept. 11.

United also approved an unpaid Family and Medical Leave of up to 12 weeks for elementary instructor Erin Staruch, beginning Oct. 22.

The school board contracted with the ARIN Intermediate Unit to provide information technology and support services to the district for one year, beginning Oct. 1, at a cost of $115,000.

ARIN will take over IT responsibilities as the district's contract with current provider In-Shore Technologies expires. The United board recently voted down a proposal for early renewal of the In-Shore agreement. It would have begun this past July, in line with the fiscal year followed by most other district contracts.

United approved a one-year agreement with Teaching Strategies LLC for an online services subscription agreement extending through Sept. 23, 2014 at a cost of $251.85. Superintendent Barbara Parkins explained the online service would notify district teachers of appointments that are part of a teacher evaluation process that factors into a new school performance profile for Pennsylvania districts..

“You have to have a preconference, then observation and then a post-conference,” she said. “This software will notify the teachers.”

United approved a contract with Pressley Ridge to provide special education services for two high school students from this past Aug. 26 through Jan. 17 at a semester rate of $29,250 plus costs for any other related services that are needed. The contract was subject to review by district solicitor Ron Saffron.

The school board signed a two-year agreement with the Armstrong/Indiana Mental Health/Mental Retardation Program under which the Community Guidance Center will continue to provide services for United's Student Assistance Program for troubled students at no cost to the district.

The board contracted with Crown Benefits Administration to provide third-party administration for health care continuation.

The district authorized its facilities coordinator to use Smart ReSale to dispose of various unwanted items including six through-the-wall air conditioners, two upright pianos, Dewalt and Rockwell shop equipment parts, audiovisual equipment and metal shelving.

The board stipulated that a contribution of $10 per enrolled student the district receives through OnDemand be designated for youth and student educational activities.

Kelly Mack was approved for the supplemental position of musical choreographer, at a salary of $412. Several instructors were named to oversee after-school detention during the 2013-14 school year, at a rate of $20 per hour.

Approved as volunteers, pending receipt of proper documentation, were Natalie Felix and Margaret Overdorff, at the elementary school; Darlene Sexton, with the cheerleading program; and Carol Knupp, with the UPIE program at the high school.

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

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