Elk Lake names new elementary principal

BY PAT FARNELLI

Elk Lake’s Dean of Students Marc Weisgold was hired by the school board Thursday as the district’s new elementary principal at a salary of $85,000.

Dr. Ken Cuomo took the superintendent’s seat for the first time at the board meeting. He was appointed to the top position earlier in the month. His salary was set at $134,000, a boost from his pay as the elementary school principal salary of $118,895. Cuomo replaced Dr. William Bush who, early in the school year, announced his intent to retire on June 30.

Cuomo, still wearing his Elementary Principal hat, reported Johnson Controls, hired to do a comprehensive energy savings program, has been at work in the elementary building. “They are upgrading the light system and installing sensors,” he explained. The sensors are learning the routine of the classrooms for occupancy and use.

“At the same time, this week, the elementary students were taking the PSSAs.”
This year, the PSSA tests came with strict rules prohibiting devices, such as phones or tablet, in an effort to prevent students from taking a photo of test questions, or looking up the answers.

“One of the students was staring at the sensor and obviously thought it was a camera, and she was reacting to it,” he said. “‘I think they are taking this PSSA thing too far,”‘ she finally retorted. The PSSAs were given Monday through Friday, Mar. 17-21.

During his principal’s report, Brian Mallery, junior and senior high principal, informed the board that a highly sought after motivational speaker, Alvin Law, will be coming to conduct assemblies at Elk Lake. Law, who was born without arms, has overcome many hardships, and will play several musical instruments, including the piano and drums, as part of his presentation.

Mallery announced that the Elk Lake Scholastic team made it to the finals and competed in the 34th Annual Scholarship Challenge in Sayre, hosted by Choice 102 Radio. Although they lost to Athens, they competed very well, he said.

The board approved the following appointments:
Kevin Jones was hired as Maintenance Supervisor, at a salary of $43,876. He replaces Maintenance Manager Ken Truman, whose letter of retirement resignation effective June 30 was received before the Mar. 5 meeting.
Lori Evans was hired as Assistant Business Manager, compensation to be paid at $49,000 for a 12 month contract, 25 percent to be paid by the SCCTC and 75 percent by the Elk Lake School District.

Business Manager Jeannie Rogers was appointed as the district’s Right to Know officer.

The board approved a request to post several positions: Assistant Maintenance Supervisor, High School Dean of Students, Superintendent’s confidential secretary.

Other actions included:
*Summer Title 1 program teacher and associate position were also posted.
*Summer Extended School Year Special Education program was discussed by Pamela Staats. This year, Elk Lake will run the program for the first time, although it has been the site of the NEIU program for years. The board approved the hiring of up to four teachers and one associate for this extended school year program.
*Linda Williams was hired as a support staff substitute at both schools;
*An NHS-SAP agreement with a mental health services provider was approved.
*More than 65 exonerations for uncollected 2013 taxes were approved;
*Xerox copier lease with unlimited copies was also approved;
*Bids will be accepted for old equipment, including two mowers;
*NEIU 19 Operating Budget was approved for $19,111.04, no increase from previous year;
*Several athletic and activity positions were appointed;
*Red Cross Emergency Shelter Agreement approved;
During the building, grounds and transportation part of the agenda, it was said that no good news has been announced regarding state reimbursement for projects, Evans said. Board President Anne Teel said that she has heard there is a proposal to free up 75 percent of promised funds to school districts in the near future.

The Spring Legislative meeting will be held at Elk Lake on May 22.

At the Mar. 5 meeting, Dr. Bush again asked for approval of a donation of $500 for a feasibility study for a sports/dome arena. The board approved the donation toward the feasibility study.

The board approved payment for the security door project recently completed by Triguard Inc. of Avoca.

The project included the installation of a Honeywell access control system to replace the DMP access system, add a duress or panic alarm system, and include an ID verification camera with monitors at four main school entrances, for $67,521.

Metal shop and graphic arts teacher Mike Faillace attended the meeting to thank the board for the opportunity to teach for more than 20 years. He said he would soon be handing in his retirement notice.

“I would like to thank the board for the years of support they have shown for the industrial arts program,” Faillace said.

Cuomo said, “I would like to thank Mr. Faillace for the 22 years I have had the pleasure of working with him.”

Faillace said that he has had many students approach him and say that if it wasn’t for industrial arts and shop classes, he or she would not have seen the value of other classes, and probably would not have finished high school.

A parent asked the board if the courses have been dropped from the next year’s offerings. He said that two of his sons had benefited from Faillace’s instruction, and that he knew students were trying to sign up for graphics or metal shop classes for next year and found that they were unavailable.

Faillace was also concerned about his courses being cut from next year’s offerings.

“Course selection has already happened, it’s over,” said one parent.
“We have not received his letter of resignation yet, so no decision has been made or action taken,” Evans said after the meeting.

On Monday, Mallery said that the graphics program has been dropped from next year’s curriculum as of this time, but metal shop will likely be available next year.