Montrose superintendent resigns

BY STACI WILSON

The Montrose Area School Board accepted the resignation, with regret, of Superintendent Michael Ognosky at the Monday, Aug. 12 board meeting. Ognosky gave his 90-day notice, per the requirements of his contract.

Ognosky explained he had been presented with an opportunity to pursue more fully his other “vocation” – officiating college basketball.

“Where I am going and the time on the road, I wouldn’t be able to do this job as it is supposed to be done, as it needs to be done,” he said. “I’m thrilled this has come at the right time. I always said I would know when it was time to retire.”

Ognosky’s last day with the district years is Nov. 1. He has been employed at Montrose Area for over 38 years and has served as the district’s superintendent for the past 12 years. Prior to that, he was employed as a teacher, assistant principal and principal.

He is the second Susquehanna County superintendent to announce his retirement. Elk Lake Superintendent William Bush recently announced he plans to retire at the end of the 2013-14 school year.

The district is moving forward with tightening up security at the three schools.

During the work session, the board heard from Elliot & Ross Investigations and Security Consultants who provided members with a safety audit and site assessment.

Since receiving the preliminary report, the district has moved ahead with the implementation of some of the security firm’s recommendations, including having all employees wear identification badges while on school property.

A key control policy will also be implemented, with electronic key fobs built into the employee badges.

The consultants said they were impressed with the district’s camera system which already captures many of the problem areas of district campuses. “The administrative team knows the weak points and is taking care of those areas,” said one of the presenters.

It was also advised that Montrose update its emergency response plan and devise a policy that provides for a consistent district-wide plan; followed by the training of personnel.

Ognosky said the district would hold a table top exercise this week; followed by a controlled drill with staff in the next few months; and a full drill in eight to nine months with participation from local emergency responders.

Dave Elliott said he had interviewed teachers, guidance counselors and staff who noted some of the same concerns as the school administrators.

He said that there were a lot of “small things” – such as the removal of some items and changing some things around – which is already being addressed.

Elliott also recommended the district develop a threat assessment team with all types of school personnel involved.

“It’s not stuff that can be fixed overnight,” Elliot said.

Ognosky said, “The safety of the kids is the schools’ top priority.” He added the consultants had given the district fresh, new ideas to look at.
The bulk of the regular meeting was spent preparing for the upcoming school year.

The board rescinded the transfer of bus routes 40 and 41 from Conaty Transportation to Timothy Legg Busing.

Bus routes 52 and 71 were transferred from Gerald and Beverly Legg to Timothy Legg Busing, effective the start of the school year.

Late bus contractors were approved: Route A, Lawsville, to William and Evelyn Goff; Route B, Birchardville, to James Ainey; Route C, Little Meadows, to Timothy Legg Busing; Route D, Lathrop St. Elementary to Tennant Transportation; and Route E, Choconut Valley Elementary to Conaty Transportation.

Bus contractors James Ainey; Clifford, Dawn and Thad Taylor; Tennant Transportation; and Bunnell Busing were approved for activity runs.

New teachers were also hired by the board. Nicole Russell was hired as a kindergarten teacher at Choconut Valley; and Nicole Pfamatter was hired as a fourth grade teacher at Lathrop Street. Mariah Stahl was hired as a half-time French teacher at the Junior/Senior High School.

Long-term substitutes were also approved: Dayle Weber, second grade, Choconut Valley; Eric Lloyd, sixth grade, Choconut Valley; Stephanie Gow, second grade, Lathrop Street; Cortney Hoffa, life skills, Lathrop Street; Paul Devine, learning support, high school; Jill Hudecek, English and Journalism, high school; and Anthony McKennas, science, high school.
McKennas was also approved as an assistant football coach beginning with the 2013 season.

Jason Whitney was hired as the full-time computer technician for the district, retroactive to July 24.

Mary Lee Fitzgerald provided the board with information about the Montrose Area Adult School. The Adult School offers some of its late afternoon and evening classes at the high school.

Former school board member Ken Gould thanked the board for its continued support of a veterans support group in the Binghamton, N.Y. area that also serves Susquehanna County.

The district donates its recycled computers to the organization. Those computers are then utilized in veterans centers and clinics, and also distributed to veterans.

Ognosky said the practice would continue.