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United School Board considers adding nurse aide to fill vacancy

Jeff Himler
| Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, 7:12 p.m.

The United School Board is considering hiring a nurse aide to replace a school nurse who has retired.

The school board voted at its Tuesday meeting to create the nurse aide position, to seek approval from the state Labor Relations Board to include the post in the United Educational Support Personnel Association bargaining unit, and to open talks with UESP to establish terms and conditions for the job.

President Don Davis said the school board is weighing the addition of a nurse aide as it looks to control budgetary costs while continuing to meet student needs for the services of a school nurse.

Davis said the district would comply with state regulations if it simply sticks with its one remaining certified school nurse. Superintendent Barbara Parkins explained state law allows a district to have up to 1,500 students served by a single nurse, and the district's current enrollment currently totals 1,114.

But, Davis said, “We're not sure that's in the best interest of our students.We would like to have some sort of (nurse) coverage at both buildings.”

While United's elementary and high schools are located across Route 56 from each other, Davis said board members felt the potential delay in crossing the highway made staffing just one of the buildings with a nurse unacceptable.

Davis said the school nurse and nurse aide would be assigned between the two schools based on the current need at each of the buildings. He noted the nurse aide would at the minimum need to be a licensed practical nurse.

In other personnel matters, the board approved a memorandum of agreement with the UESP that will allow the transfer of 15 accumulated sick leave days from one employee to another. Also, the board agreed with the UESP to submit a grievance regarding an undisclosed issue directly to arbitration.

The board agreed to place elementary instructor Kayla Erwin on the master's pay scale pending submission of appropriate transcripts and a review by the superintendent.

United accepted Stephanie Martin's resignation as a long-term substitute, effective Nov. 24, in order to fill a temporary vacancy in a position held by Jill Shinsky. An unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks, retroactive to Sept. 25, was approved for Donna Glessner in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

Acting on supplemental positions, the board approved Jodi Conrad as National Honor Society adviser at a salary of $260.10 and accepted Judy Shomo's resignation as Junior Academy of Science adviser. Formal job descriptions were approved for 19 different supplemental instructor, director and adviser positions, including summer driver education, band director, cheerleading and majorette advisers, yearbook adviser and senior class/trip adviser.

During public comment, Brush Valley resident Denice George asked the board to consider opening up the senior class adviser post for possible appointment of a parent rather than limiting it to district staff. Davis said the school directors would consider the suggestion at an upcoming work session.

When George expressed concern that students have been discouraged from offering comment at school board meetings, Davis dispelled that notion, stating that parents and students alike are welcome to speak up at the board's public sessions.

“We're certainly open to listen and have people come in and present their point of view,” Davis said.

The school board set its annual reorganization meeting for 7 p.m. Dec. 3 in the high school library.

Davis noted the reorganization marks the end of four years of service on the board by John Poorbaugh and eight years of service by Norma Carpenter.

Carpenter, who was absent Tuesday, was defeated in her bid for another term in the spring primary, while Poorbaugh, who originally ran for a board seat when he was still a district student, said he chose not to run again due to other plans.

Poorbaugh said he believes that he and fellow board members acted in the best interests of both students and taxpayers and that the district has improved over the past four years. He encouraged the board to take a conservative approach when addressing upcoming district budgets.

“My hope is my service doesn't end here but will continue in the future in other capacities,” he said.

Addressing some remaining bills for the recently completed elementary building renovation, the board approved payment of $172,074.37 to contractor Mid-State Construction and approved $8,000 as the final estimated cost for subcontractor G. M. McCrossin Inc.

In other action, United agreed to participate in the ARIN Intermediate Unit's SchoolCast service for the 2013-14 school year, at a cost of $655 for access with a cable connection.

Andrew M. Klein was retained to provide special education consultant services for a district student. The district and the student's parents will split Klein's fee of $200 per hour.

The board approved a Differentiated Supervision Model Plan for teacher evaluations and named nine members to the district wellness committee — including school director Trudy DeRubis along with a mix of district staff and community members. The other committee members are Patricia Berezansky, Scott McCully, Jared Turner, Melanie Brilhart, Diane Wagoner, Justin Henning, Lori Kovach and Barb Turner.

The district will install a “School Bus Stop Ahead” sign along Route 22 East at a cost of $193.75.

Vocal music instructor Acey Gongaware was authorized to accompany six students to the District Chorus festival Jan. 8-11 at Clarion-Limestone High School at a cost of $1,457.

Looking further down the road, Gongaware and United band director Ben Saylor received permission to accompany students to a spring 2015 performance at Florida's Disney World at no cost to the district. The trip would take place either March 30 to April 4 or April 6-11 of that year.

The district accepted donations of a “Lion Country” stone from Appleridge Stone of Blairsville and of three mail-related elementary library books, in memory of rural mail carrier Shirley Hill, from her grandchildren.

Approved as elementary volunteers were Donna Meyer, Veronica Sue Plowman, Shawna Nibert, Jacinda Walls and Karen Stiles. Also volunteering are Carrie Aloi, with the majorette program, and Dorene Schillinger, with the Drama Club.

High School Principal Michael Worthington recognized two outstanding student athletes: Jake Beacker, who amassed 59 career goals in soccer while simultaneously playing on the United football team; and freshman Ryleigh Ludwig, who placed 82nd out of more than 200 competitors at the recent state cross country meet.

At the beginning of Tuesday's meeting, Worthington screened a newly released music video performed and produced by United High School and Middle School students. Filmed in one continuous take, the video takes viewers throughout the school as students lip sync to the Aretha Franklin song “Respect.”

It represents the district's entry in a “Lip Dub” contest co-sponsored by Trib Total Media, St. Vincent College and the Pittsburgh Power. By amassing viewer votes over a three-week period, the school will compete for up to $5,000 in prize money. From Nov. 15 through Dec. 5, individuals can log on to and select “Contests” and “2013 Lip Dub” to view video entries from various schools and vote for their favorite entry up to 10 times per day.

Derry Area and Greater Latrobe high schools and the Eastern Westmoreland County Technology Center also have entered videos in the contest.

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

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