Board member debate governs meeting

Crowd in attendance questions whether Wise is in danger of removal from board

LEWISTOWN — Rumors swirling around social media about the Mifflin County School District Board of Directors attempting to oust one of its members brought a packed house to Thursday’s special voting meeting and committee-of-the whole meeting Thursday night.

Several area residents questioned the legality of attempting to oust board member Noah Wise, who said he has visited numerous schools during his tenure when a local resident says there is a problem in an attempt to resolve the situation.

During several heated exchanges, Board President Terry Styers said none of the rumors are true.

“At no time was a statement made about removing a board member from his position,” Styers said. “The term ethics never came out of my mouth.”

School District Solicitor Orris Knepp assured those in attendance that no single school board member can legally oust any other member of the board.

Area resident Jill Hayes said she had a problem recently with one of her children and was not satisfied by going up the chain of command.

“Why not call a school board member?” she asked. “I called Noah. As a parent I should have the right to call any board member to get some answers. I don’t think Mr. Wise should be penalized for trying to help the situation.”

Following the meeting, when asked to comment on the situation, Wise, who on Tuesday was re-elected to another four-year term on the board, said, “People come to me with concerns when there are no results in the chain of command. Yes, I did go into schools to try to help and resolve some situations. I was elected to help kids and the taxpayers of Mifflin County. I work for them, not the administration. This is just something that got out of hand. When stakeholders ask for my interaction, I’m not going to tell them no. Teachers, parents and students call me because they’re afraid of repercussions. I just wish more board members would get more involved. I think the public should be aware of what’s going on. I definitely appreciate this support.”

At the end of the meeting, resident Lori Bonson asked, “Bottom line, is there an intention to try and remove him from the board?”

“No, absolutely not,” Styers said.

“Well, where did that information come from?” Bonson queried.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Styers replied.

Following that brief exchange, board member Robert Hammond said, “Nobody’s trying to remove anybody.”

In other business during the special voting meeting, the board:

¯ Approved Nicholas Wolfkiel as a volunteer baseball coach for the spring season.

¯ Approved Aaron Shepherd as head swim coach for the winter season.

¯ Approved Neil Breneman as a volunteer coach for indoor track and field.

¯ Approved Caleb Smith as a volunteer boys lacrosse coach.

¯ Approved Nathan Poche as a volunteer boys basketball coach.

¯ Approved the transfer of Lucas Goss, custodian at Lewistown Elementary to the middle school.

¯ Approved hiring Anthony Goss as a full-time custodian at Lewistown Elementary School.

¯ Approved the transfer of Jennifer Yearick, paraprofessional working with a 504 student at Indian Valley Elementary to working in learning support.

¯ Approved the transfer of Amanda Hertzler, paraprofessional working in autistic support at Lewistown Elementary, to the middle school.

¯ Approved the retirement of Carol Snyder, attendance secretary at Lewistown Elementary School, effective Jan. 10.

¯ Approved an agreement with Shredit, a company to provide district-wide shredding services.

¯ Approved a recommendation to solicit electricity pricing through Provident Energy Consulting for the years 2023-2024 and for permission for administration to sign the contracts with results conveyed to the board.

During the committee-of-the-whole meeting, board members went over the following agenda items scheduled to be voted on at the board’s next business meeting Nov. 21:

¯ The resignation of Tracy Bastress, cafeteria worker at the middle school, effective Oct. 24.

¯ Approval of Skylar Ciccolini as a volunteer coach for track and field for the 2019-20 season.

¯ The hiring of the following junior high boys soccer coaches: Justin Mayo, head coach; and Robert Lepley and Keith Yoder, volunteer assistants.

¯ Approval of the 2020-21 school calendar, which has been coordinated by the district, The Academy and Juniata County School District.