The State College Area school board played a version of musical chairs Monday night, as a new president and vice president were selected at a brief reorganization meeting held before the board’s regular meeting.
Former vice president Amber Concepcion was elected president and Jim Leous was elected to replace her as vice president. Both were approved unanimously. Outgoing president Penni Fishbaine was praised and applauded by board members and those in attendance for leadership during her tenure that saw the board face issues like the high school referendum..
“I think Penni’s done a very impressive job during some challenging times for the last two years to lead us to this point,” Superintendent Bob O’Donnell said.
The regular meeting opened with a proposal for four new classes to be added to the curriculum for the next school year. Secondary curriculum director Jacque Martin proposed adding an elective black history course and also a remedial biology class for students not proficient in the biology portion of the Keystone exam.
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Board members expressed interest in the new courses. Laurel Zydney said the courses provide for an opportunity for students to delve into topics more deeply and the black history was especially relevant because of current events.
“I was really glad to see this,” she said. “It’s a really important topic.”
Additional classes were also pitched for the Career and Technology Center. Director Sharon Perry proposed an advanced architectural drafting class for seniors and an entrepreneurship class for students interested in informational technology.
The board will vote on whether to add the courses to the curriculum at the Dec. 15 meeting.
The meeting closed with discussion on a situation regarding a parking agreement from 2009 between the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority board and the school district. The agreement states that 106 parking spaces on the south side of Westerly Parkway be shared between both entities to provide parking for the William J. Welch Community Swimming Pool.
Several months ago, the school board asked for an amendment to the agreement that would omit the condition that the spaces be strictly on the south side of Westerly because of the high school construction project, member Jim Pawelczyk said. If the present agreement remains in place and spaces are confined to the south side of the parkway, it would cost the school district $600,000 to add a parking lot in front of the new entrance of the high school to honor the requirement, he added.
The parks and recreation board produced a new resolution Monday that stated it would consider “adding language” to the original agreement only if certain conditions are met, including the addition of a pedestrian-activated traffic signal near the pool.
While the new resolution addresses valid points and safety is a prime concern of both boards, Pawelczyk said the recommendations can’t be guaranteed in the short term as they require approval from other agencies, like the state Department of Transportation. A vote by the authority to change the resolution is especially imperative because land submission documents for the construction project are due Dec. 14, he said.
“I think the major concern from the district’s perspective is that it doesn’t provide the kind of assurance we need from the authority to move forward with an alternative parking plan,” he said.
The new resolution will be considered at a parks and recreation board meeting at 12:15 p.m. Thursday at the Ferguson Township Municipal Building. A special meeting of the school board on the parking matter is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 8.