Board approves Estep for five years

LEWISTOWN – Mifflin County School District Superintendent James Estep isn’t going anywhere for a while.

Following a lengthy executive session at the end of Thursday’s regular business meeting agenda, the Mifflin County School District Board of Directors approved a proposal to re-hire Estep as superintendent by a 6-1 vote.

The decision is effective for the period July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2020 and includes a yearly salary of $147,100, which represents a $10,400 decrease from the salary he is currently being paid.

Voting in favor of the measure were directors Dr. Ruth Armstrong, Robert Hammond, John Knepp, Beth Laughlin, Kristen Sharp and Mary Lou Sigler. Voting against was Richard Smeltz.

Estep said the board asked him to present a proposal for re-hire now that he has entered the fifth year of a five-year deal.

“I asked for a five-year contract,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed working here the last four years and I hope I can retire from here. This (agreement) will get me pretty close to that.”

Estep added that upon entering his current position, the waters were, to say the least, rough.

“I want to see the fruits of all the effort that’s gone on here these last four years,” he said. “Things were very difficult (in the beginning), very stressful. I feel like we’re turning the corner (financially) and getting a certain degree of calm. Now I’d like to focus on getting better with academics, extra curriculars and everything else that goes along with that.”

Estep said the board was not obligated to even think about an extension until the end of the fifth year of his contract, however, as a professional courtesy, they decided to do something early.

“By doing this now, if they decided to move in another direction, it would have given me time to search for my next assignment,” Estep said. “It’s not unusual to do this early if they’re satisfied with the job we’re doing.”

Following the meeting, Sigler, the board president, noted, “We appreciate Mr. Estep’s generous offer. We appreciate the work he has done over the last four years to bring about the many positive changes which have occurred through difficult times.”

In other business Thursday, the board approved a recommended food service fund budget for the 2014-15 school year in the amount of $2,875,625, which represents a slight increase over the previous year.

Melanie Hill, the district’s food service director, was on hand to present the proposed spending plan for providing breakfast and lunch for the district’s students.

Hill noted the district is again participating in the National School Food Program, which mandates certain aspects of meals be provided. Hill added that last year, 52 percent of district students were approved for free or reduced lunches under the federal guidelines.

In a brief recap of last year, Hill said 655,000 lunches were served, along with 145,000 breakfasts. Through a formula devised by the United States Department of Agriculture, Hill said lunch prices this coming year will be $2.60 for middle and high school students and $2.30 for elementary kids. Breakfast will be $1.25 in all schools, she added.

Following the presentation, the board voted 6-1 to approve the budget. Director John Knepp voted against the motion.

The board also approved a recommendation to hire Shane Spencer as head boys basketball coach at Mifflin County High School. Spencer succeeds long-time Lewistown and Mifflin County High School boys hoops coach Aaron Gingrich, who resigned in June to spend more time with his family.

In other business Thursday, the board:

Approved the Burnham Bulldogs Special Needs football team’s request to waive the fee of $300 for the use of Mitchell Field on Sunday, Oct. 26. The team would still be responsible for staff fees of approximately $603.75.

Approved the Central Keystone Football and Cheer League’s request to waive the fee of $300 for the use of Mitchell Field on Saturday, Oct. 11 and $300 for Sunday, Oct. 12. The league would still be responsible for staff fees of approximately $1,691.25.

Approved the McClure Company for the chiller install at Lewistown Elementary School as the low bidder in the amount of $24,000.

Approved a recommendation to approve a resolution regarding the use of bond issue funds to reimburse the district for project expenditures.

Approved a contract of $60 per hour for Cynthia Heister, occupational therapist assistant supervisor, for a minimum of 12 hours per month.

Approved permanent teacher hirings for the 2014-15 school year including Kari Kenepp, kindergarten at Indian Valley Elementary; Vicki Mattey, third grade at East Derry Elementary; Sierra Chesney, first grade at East Derry Elementary; Jacob Smith, math at the high school; Lori Saltzer, math at the high school; Andrew Ahearn, math at the high school and middle school; Krystena Brown, English at the high school; John Jay Huerbin, reading at the middle and junior high schools; Meagan Byler, third grade at Lewistown Elementary; Katherine Goeller, autistic support at the middle school; Laurel Frymyer, autistic support at the middle school; Kristy Fitzgerald, learning support at the junior high school; Marie Scafuri, life skills support at East Derry Elementary; Melissa Zilch, life skills support at Lewistown Intermediate; Melissa Breitfeller, first grade at Strodes Mills lementary; Robin Hack, first grade at Lewistown Elementary; Alexandria Hynson, kindergarten at East Derry Elementary; and Lauren Nearhoof Runk, fifth grade at Indian Valley Elementary.

Approved the hiring of Jennifer Natalini as a school psychologist districtwide.

Approved the hiring of Christa Pagnatto as a temporary learning support teacher at the junior high school.

Accepted resignations including Joanna McKalips, emotional support teacher at the middle school, effective August 22; Jennifer Ashcraft, emotional support teacher at the junior and high schools effective August 18; Lara Young, first grade teacher at Strodes Mills Elementary, due to relocation; Joseph Stroup, assistant principal at Indian Valley Elementary and Lewistown Intermediate.

Approved the hiring of Becca Zook as a temporary learning/emotional support teacher at East Derry Elementary.

Approved the hiring of Eric Landis as a school psychologist districtwide.

Approved the hiring of Diane Stewart as assistant principal for 205 days at Indian Valley Elementary School and Lewistown Intermediate School at a salary of $75,000.

Approved the Mifflin County High School Marching Band to attend the Tournament of Bands Atlantic Coast Championship Series Show on Sunday, Nov. 2 in Hershey.

Approved the resignation of Nichola Hidlay, physical therapist, effective Aug. 22.

Approved additions to the substitute teacher list including Karen Korona, elementary; Nancy Aurand, elementary; Rosemary Bradley, Eric Ettinger, Heather Fultz, Robert Fultz, Clay Mactarnaghan, Tiffany Mistretta, David Reynolds, Sandra Rohrer, Shawn Spickler and Paula Wray, all emergency certification.

Approved tenure for individuals including Charles Fuller, Christopher Evans, Lindsey Reich, Shashona Baker, Matthew Reed and Monica Cox.

Approved volunteer coaches for 2014-15 including Seth Yearick, cross country; and Erin Bishop, girls soccer.

Approved coaches for the 2014-15 school year including Jon Corbin, first assistant girls basketball; Crystal Weaver, head ninth grade girls basketball; Matthew Walters, assistant eighth grade girls basketball; L. Dale Searer, first assistant wrestling; Joseph Eckenroth, assistant wrestling; Garry Price, head junior high wrestling; David Wray, assistant junior high wrestling; Scot Sechler, assistant winter track; Kierstin Walker, assistant winter cheerleading; Jennifer Johnson, junior high winter cheerleading; and Taylor Hynson, assistant junior high volleyball.