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United board to consider high school project bids

Jeff Himler
| Friday, April 18, 2014, 12:45 p.m.

United School Board will hold a special meeting on Tuesday to consider approving bids for high school renovations that would include relocation of offices and security improvements. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the high school library and will be followed by a budget workshop session.

School board President Don Davis explained the proposed renovations call for moving the high school and central district administrative offices from their current location — along a corridor leading to the cafeteria and gym — to the area that is now occupied by the library. The library, in turn, is slated to shift toward the existing office site.

“What we're looking to do is make a much more secure (building) entrance,” Davis said. Referring to a corridor that faces the school's circular driveway, he added, “Out front where all that glass is, we want to secure that, too.”

Davis indicated the cost of the improvements would be covered with funds remaining from a previous building project bond issue. The work at the high school follows soon after recently completed renovations at the elementary school that included installation of a more secure entrance for that building.

Davis said district officials hope to begin construction on the high school renovations as soon as the spring semester classes are over and the summer break begins.

He noted that the project “will not be completed before the start of school, but it will not delay the start of school (next fall). They'll work around that.”

At its regular April 8 meeting, the school board approved a memorandum of agreement between the district and the United Education Support Personnel Association to allow creation of a full-time nurse aide position and inclusion of the position in the UESPA bargaining unit for the remainder of the current school year and for 2014-15. The board also approved the immediate transfer of Jill Barbus to the new nurse aide post from her existing position of building secretary/paraprofessional health room aide.

Davis said Barbus, who is a licensed practical nurse (LPN), will for now be assigned to the elementary school, with her permanent location to be determined.

He explained the move addresses the fact that United has had just one school nurse, regularly assigned to the high school, for both of its school buildings. While that arrangement is permitted under state regulations, Davis said, “We thought it would be better to have a person at both buildings.

“We've had (Barbus) there temporarily to cover that position at the elementary school when we were unable to get a substitute.”

“The position she vacated will most likely be advertised,” Davis noted. “We're in the process of deciding all our staffing needs.”

In other personnel matters, United approved a written five-year contract with district Superintendent Barbara L. Parkins, retroactive to Dec. 13, 2012 and extending through Dec. 12, 2017. Davis explained the motion amends a contract the district already had in place with Parkins — to include objective performance standards for the superintendent and a related evaluation tool.

The performance standards “had to be mutually agreed upon by the board and the superintendent,” he said.”It was just inserted into her contract. Everything else remains the same.”

The board also approved, with regret, the June 30 retirement of Sophia Harkleroad, who served as an aide at the district for nine years.

The following supplemental positions were approved for the 2013-14 school year: Marci Beyer, elementary special teams leader, $636.72 retroactive; Dennis Rudnik, assistant softball coach, $2,057.80; Cathleen Harr, junior high girls' assistant volleyball coach, $1,426,73; Lance Holupka, weight room supervisor, $1,147.50. With Robert Dill absent, board member Tommey Heming cast the sole vote against Holupka's role in the weight room.

Adam Magalich was approved as a volunteer baseball coach.

Three faculty members were selected to provide homebound instruction to individual students, each at a rate of $36 per hour. Ronald Ofman was assigned to a second-grade student, James Cawley to an eighth-grade student and Michael Lee to an 11th-grade student.

With Beth Ann Marcus abstaining, the United board voted to approve the Indiana County Technology Center budget for 2014-15. While the center's budget has increased by about 2 percent compared to the previous year, Davis noted United's contribution has decreased.

“They based our share on a three-year average enrollment, so our share is down just a little bit,” he said.

Davis noted that at least 28 out of 54 total board members representing six participating school districts must vote in favor of the ICTC budget for it to pass.

The school board set June 6 as the graduation date for the United High School Class of 2014. “We always pray for nice weather,” Davis said. “We do prefer to have it outside at the high school athletic field.” The alternative site, in case of threatening weather, is the high school auditorium.

The United board authorized G. Thomas Kalinyak, director of finance, to prepare specifications and advertise for bids for purchase of gasoline for bus transportation of students in 2014-15. The buses will be supplied by a new transportation provider — Tri County Transportation of Northern Cambria, which will begin a 12-year contract with the district in the fall.

The school board contracted with Camco Physical and Occupational Therapy to provide rehabilitation services for eligible district students, at $56 per hour, for one year, ending July 31, 2015.

United agreed to participate in a summer feeding program for youngsters attending an Evergreen Boys and Girls Club program at the district. The feeding program will be funded through a 21st Century Grant.

United adopted a revised student wellness policy and also a long-range special education plan report extending through June 30, 2017. The special education plan is posted on the district website at

United agreed to join forces with neighboring Indiana Area School District in October to play host to between two and four foreign exchange students from Lycee Saint Paul in Vannes, France.

The school board agreed to a United High School student's participation in a School-to-Employment at PennDOT co-op internship program beginning in July and concluding upon the student's graduation in 2015.

The board authorized district facilities coordinator Ed Sutter to sell a 1989 F-350 Ford dump truck at the Ebensburg Auto Auction and to sell or dispose of the following items through Smart ReSale: 1979 Allis-Chalmers 5040 diesel tractor with front bucket; Miller Dialarc HF-P AC/DC gas tungsten arc and shielded welding machine; Powermatic 18-inch planer; 30-drawer card catalog; metal book ends.

Other items to be sold through Smart ReSale or disposed of through the Indiana County Solid Waste Authority include two microfiche readers and a desktop wind tunnel.

In student trips, Mikel Balsley and Lorraine Allman were authorized to accompany four students to take part in the PA Junior Academy of Science state competition May 18-20 at Penn State, at a cost of $1,550. Brian Manges and Kristie Good will accompany five students to the Senior High State Envirothon competition May 20-21 at Susquehanna University, at a cost of $604.90.

On May 22, John Dunn will accompany 15-20 U.S. history class students and Francine Ressler will chaperone eighth-graders on separate trips to Washington, D.C. There will be no cost to the district for either trip.

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

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