Public shows support for coach

Students speak in favor of Gaffey

LEWISTOWN — The public poured into the board room at the Mifflin County School District administrative office in support of Scott Gaffey in his position as Mifflin County boys basketball coach.

Wade Curry, president of the Husky Hoopsters basketball organization told the board of directors during its meeting Thursday that the basketball team deserves and needs stability in coaching staff for the program to grow.

Curry outlined a number of programs that Gaffey has been involved with.

“Under Coach Gaffey’s leadership, the commitment of his time, utilization of his basketball network and the support of the athletic director has helped to make this possible,” he said. “We are building a program, but it is imperative that you understand what a setback a change in the head coach position would create for all these things that we have planned to do.”

Owen Wise, a student, said he felt Gaffey was the best choice for the basketball program.

“Coach taught me to believe in myself … I’ve had a few times when my shot hasn’t gone in and coach taught me and encouraged me to keep shooting,” he said. “He has taught us to play as ‘we’ and not as individuals.”

Wise continued, saying the coach takes personal interest in students and makes sure they have opportunities to practice.

“Coach Gaffey pushes us to better ourselves. He has supported our program through several losses and always encourages us to move forward.”

Brook Pennypacker, a parent involved in the basketball booster club, read a statement from a basketball player who wished to remain anonymous.

“When Coach Gaffey started at Mifflin County, some of us didn’t like the change that was about to happen. Some of the kids didn’t give it a chance, but most of us did. Throughout our season, we all set reasonable goals for the team. Although we didn’t accomplish all of these goals, Coach Gaffey stayed positive and gave us more goals to accomplish,” she read. “I wish for Coach Gaffey to continue to coach here at Mifflin County High School.”

The public comment period was followed by an executive session regarding personnel issues that lasted for an hour and 20 minutes.

No action was taken regarding Gaffey’s position as coach during the meeting, and following executive session, Superintendent James Estep said comments about Gaffey could have been related to some parents having a difference in opinion regarding who should be coaching.

In other school board news, Estep urged those in attendance to contact their local representatives regarding House Bill 526 and Senate Bill 34.

The bills, he said, involve how school districts pay for cyber/charter schools.

In next year’s budget, he said, Mifflin County taxpayers will foot the bill for $2.5 million in charter school tuition. The bills could reduce the cyber school expenditure by nearly $500,000.

“It’s stuck in committee because cyber/charter schools have highly paid lobbyists who try to push for no changes to the law…but the law pulls a lot of money from the local tax bases all across the commonwealth and not a single cyber/charter school that has been in existence of these years has ever made benchmark on their student achievement.”

The board also took the following action:

¯Approved SAFE2SAY Something procedures.

¯Approved a new sixth grade social studies textbooks resource at the cost of $2,697.

¯Approved the 2019-20 employee pay schedule.

¯Approved the 2019-20 Mifflin County Academy of Science and Technology general fund budget in the amount of $3.1 million. Mifflin County School District’s portion is $1.9 million, an increase of $76,237 from last year.

¯Approved a fee waiver of $1,247 plus sound crew fees for the use of the high school auditorium, band room, sound system, even staff and custodial staff for the Lewistown Community Band concert on Dec. 14.

¯Approved a fee waiver of $873 plus sound crew fees for the use of the high school auditorium, band room, sound system, event staff and custodial staff for Mifflin County Former Band Students-Memorial for Mike Wasilko on June 11.

¯Approved the resignations of Curtis Caldwell, ESP teacher at Lewistown Elementary School; Taylor White, paraprofessional at Lewistown Elementary School; Trystan Snyder, food truck driver; Sonya Brower, cashier/dishroom; Diane Stewart, assistant principal at Indian Valley Elementary School and East Derry Elementary School.

¯Approved hiring Heidi McKnight, food service van/truck driver; Amy Yohn, cafeteria substitute; Sonya Brower, cashier/dishroom; Travis Specht, custodian at Indian Valley Elementary School; Todd Powell, substitute custodian district wide; Todd Peachey, bus driver for K.V. Busline LLC.

¯Approved the following cafeteria staff be added to the custodial substitute list for summer help: Amy Banks, Tracy Bastress, Kaleena Beers, Sonya Brower, Gloria Ciccolini, Patricia Christoff, Deborah Gutshall, Sheila Specht, Kelly Strausburg, Cindy Jasper, Kimbra McKnight, Cara Mowery, Sherry Pecht, Penny Reed, Susan Ritchey, Laurie Romig and Phyllis Varner.

¯Approved the following coaches for the 2019-20 school year: Rachel Corson, assistant cheerleading; Cassie Swenson, volunteer assistant cheerleading; Libby Wray, assistant junior high cheerleading; Adrienne Witters, volunteer assistant junior high cheerleading; Deanna Russler, volunteer assistant cross country; Richard Yearick, volunteer assistant cross country; Jennifer Neavling, volunteer assistant cross country; Seth Yearick, volunteer assistant cross country; Christopher Tatom, volunteer assistant cross country; Stephanie Hoffman, assistant field hockey; Isaac Suydam, volunteer assistant field hockey; Steven Searer, first assistant varsity football; Christian Hassinger, assistant football varsity; Charles Douglas, assistant football varsity; Kyle Baublitz, assistant football varsity; Nicholas Poche, volunteer assistant varsity; Richard Bender Jr., volunteer assistant varsity; Steve Himes, head junior high football coach; Steven Poche, assistant junior high football; Connor Muir, assistant junior high football; Shawn Renninger, volunteer junior high football; Eric Ettinger, volunteer junior high football; Randall Knode, volunteer junior high football; Kelley Dixon, volunteer assistant golf coach; Carolyn Kline, assistant soccer coach; Emma Hepler, volunteer assistant coach, Brett Leister, volunteer assistant coach; Justin Mayo, assistant boys soccer coach; Joab Carter, volunteer assistant boys soccer; Daniel Schomaker, volunteer assistant boys soccer; Jeffrey Mazurek, assistant tennis; Steven Hugenbubler, volunteer tennis; Jennifer Myers, volunteer volleyball; Jennifer Myers, volunteer volleyball; Heather Adams, volunteer volleyball; Roy Bucher, volunteer volleyball; Nathan Barnhart, head junior high softball; Makaylah Holbert, assistant junior high softball; Katurah Klein, volunteer assistant junior high softball; Natalie Faith, head junior high field hockey; Colleen Snook, assistant junior high field hockey.

¯Approved the 2018-19 Benchmark Reading Assessment system bid.

¯Approved the Food Service Assignment Memorandum of Understanding.

¯Approved the School Resource Officer agreement between the borough of Lewistown and Mifflin County School District.

¯Approved a resolution supporting the Cyber Charter Funding reform.