by Jonathan Weaver
About six bids to build a $10 million athletic complex at the new Armstrong Junior-Senior High School will expire tomorrow, but Armstrong School District Board President Joseph Close updated school directors Monday that other options are still possible.
“It doesn’t seem as though anything like that is possible at this point,” Close said. “The bids will lapse in a couple days, so that pretty-much is the end of that saga right now.
“But, I do believe the Board needs to continue to look at that and see what we can do. It’s something we need to revamp and put something else together and look at where we’re at with funding.”
At last week’s open caucus session, school directors discussed other ways to facilitate athletics – including utilizing Ford City or Kittanning fields or constructing “scaled-back” versions of original plans – after Close learned from ASD Foundation President and Kittanning Junior High Principal Kirk Lorigan that about $1 million was raised.
District Facilities Director Bill Henley told school directors last week several areas the athletic facilities would need to be updated to allow for Triple-A capacity crowds and competition.
Board Director Amy Lhote mentioned there were, including possibly putting the issue on an election referendum during the spring Primary Election.
Region III Board Director Stan Berdell, who said he has mixed feelings on the issue, said it may be time to look at other existing facilities in the school as well.
“We’ll have to try and work out something else to get those facilities on-track,” Berdell said. “But we all talked and the district as a whole, and I’d like to suggest updating our facilities study to put together some sort of plan to look at some of those outlying schools.
It’s really important to show we’re concerned about the whole district.”
He also recalled where plans to build a field house at the West Shamokin Junior-Senior High school lapsed – 12 years ago.
“There are tough decisions coming up,” Berdell concluded.
Close agreed and said a resolution after discussion with L.R. Kimball engineers could be considered as early as next month.
School directors also unanimously hired to outsource substitute teachers to a New Jersey-based company later this school year.
Source4Teachers has worked with nearly 50 Pennsylvania school districts the past two school years – including several in Westmoreland County – and is in-talks with the ARIN Intermediate Unit in an effort to minimize future healthcare and retirement costs.
“ASD makes substitutes feel like part of a family. The schools welcome them and they work toward a common goal,” one substitute from Rural Valley said. “The schools know their substitutes and trust them, as do the students enough to talk to us about things outside the school realm.”
Current district substitutes would be recommended for hire by Source4Teachers during their initial six-month trail contract that begins in January, Business Director Samuel Kirk said. The company will also be attending career fairs to add to a pool of new substitutes available.
The contract was approved unanimously, 6-0. School Directors Paul Lobby, James Rearic and Timothy Scaife were absent from the meeting.
Kittanning High Metal Shop Teacher Tom Caves returned to make a public comment before voting began.
In October 2012, Caves spoke before plans were finalized to ask for more storage space in the technical education department. He was pleased to see school directors would later vote for a change order to permit that.
“Those concerns have been met and exceeded. I’m excited to go to the new junior-senior high school and be part of this,” Caves said.
An executive session for personnel and a legal matter was held before the meeting began.
As read by Solicitor John Smart, school directors voted unanimously to hire James Gaggini as a substitute assistant superintendent on a day-to-day emergency basis. His appointment can be up until the last day of the current school year.
According to personnel documents, Assistant Superintendent Lyn Logelin took a leave of absence effective September 29 through May 9 and applied for retirement effective in May.
In 2008, Gaggini retired after 35 years as an educator and administrator, lastly being named Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education and Pupil Services.