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JCSD provides home education

Board holds meeting via Zoom

MIFFLINTOWN – Juniata County School District administrators are working on providing a continuity of education while students and families are being urged to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19.

But the process has not been without glitches.

The board of directors for Juniata County School District held its meeting via Zoom Video on Tuesday.

Administrators said an education plan is expected to be implemented on Monday, with more information to be available later this week for parents and students.

“The administration and teachers have all had input and have stepped up to put everything in place. We had a few glitches with some online platforms when additional schools came on across the United States. I’m hopeful that we will continue to have things work the way they should,” said Assistant Superintendent Christie Holderman.

Superintendent Gary Dawson added that the programs were not designed for the level of use they are seeing.

“There were some glitches and some things beyond our control went down,” he said. “I ask families for patience as we try to address some of these concerns.”

Another issue the district is facing, Dawson said, is that at least 20 percent of students do not have access to the internet.

He said administrators and teachers are working to address the needs of those students.

Board members thanked teachers and administrators for their efforts during this “unprecedented time.”

“I ask for continued support during this time so we can provide a safe environment for our staff, students and neighbors…while we do our best to stop the spread of this (virus),” said Troy Woodward. “Please be understanding and we will get through this.”

Also during the meeting, Dawson said Holderman was named the spokesperson for the school district during the pandemic and thanked her for taking on the role.

“Everybody here has taken on roles and those roles are changing as this (issues surrounding the global pandemic) changes…I want to thank them for their exceptional work. People have been working hard in trying to (fill) their roles,” he said. “As superintendent, you have to recognize the strength of your staff and Mrs. Holderman is an outstanding community member. She has been an outstanding member of this school district for many years and she is well known within our community, so…I thank her 110 percent for her willingness to try to provide those answers.”

Dawson was met with criticism for putting Holderman in the role of spokesperson.

Heather Kelly, a former board member, voiced her disappointment with Dawson’s leadership.

“He has had absolutely no public presence or meaningful leadership in the district of which I am aware. Not prior to the COVID-19 crisis and not since,” she said. “I am not aware of Dr. Dawson being present at a single extracurricular activity or sporting event throughout the season…Frankly, Keith Yarger was far more present in the community than Dr. Dawson has been. From what I know of her, I anticipate Christie Holderman is working tirelessly and filling the leadership void.”

Kelly asked the board to hold Dawson accountable to fulfilling his obligations as the leader of the district.

Kelly further criticized the board president, Mark Wagner, for not holding Dawson accountable.

“Based on my experience…Mark Wagner does not have the motivation, management experience or leadership skills to do so.”

Board member Amy Wagner ended the meeting, adding that being a spokesperson for the district is part of Dawson’s contract, and asked other board members to encourage him to serve as the spokesperson for the district.

Also during the meeting, the board approved the donation of personal protective equipment and materials to local agencies as long as doing so does not place the district at a risk for shortage. Holderman said the district donated some goggles from the district’s health professionals program.

The board approved a motion to authorize the business office, with supervision and approval from the superintendent and the business manager, to pay bills as they become due during the global pandemic. Dawson said payment information will be made available during the next board meeting.

In other news, the board:

– Noted that the use of district facilities has been suspended until limitations on public gatherings and other COVID-19 related directives have been lifted;

-Approved a contract with primeverose for the provision of school nutrient software. The district’s business manager, Richard meiny, said the software was budgeted for;

-Approved a list of persons exonerated from paying per capita taxes;

-Approved Marvin Hammond as a driver;

-Approved the enrollment of Himmler fellowman, of Sweden, as an exchange student at East Juniata High School for the 2020-21 school year. Dawson said the may be contingent on the worldwide situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic;

-Approved Donna imps as a substitute teacher;

-Approved the retirement of East Juniata Elementary school teachers Sharon Stary and Ann schreiner;

-Approved the following staff for extracurricular positions – Juniata High School for the 2020-21 school year: Dave Lehman, volunteer track and field coach; Chase Lehman, volunteer track and field coach; Sharon Storey, Lynn Mingle, Mark Mingle, Pam shellmonger and Jerry aurea as game personnel. East Juniata High School: Jeff Becker, Tuscarora Junior high School girls’ soccer volunteer coach; Mackenzie McDonald, volunteer track and field coach; David Brantley, volunteer track and field coach; Tom Devine, Dan kanga, Neil Wolf, Brian Robinson, Todd bracknell, Tammy bracknell and Francis ranke as game personnel. Juniata High School for the 2020-21 school year: Susan Paden, volleyball coach; Jim fosterland, assistant volleyball coach;

-Approved the resignations of: Chris wolflike, East Juniata High School boys’ basketball coach and Carl scheffel, East Juniata High School boys’ basketball assistant coach;

– The board acknowledged that the district’s air rifle team received a $14,200 grant from the National Rifle Association to purchase equipment and an electronic scoring board.

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