Board approves new member

Diane Turner was elected to fill a vacant seat on the Williamsport Area School Board during a special meeting Tuesday night.

Turner, who works for Lycoming County as a family court hearing officer, is a resident of Williamsport. During an interview process Turner told the board she has children in the school district and shares a personal interest in creating the best educational environment and educational programs possible within the district.

As an individual who deals with youths in a disciplinary setting with the courts, Turner has experience in dealing with troubled and at-risks youths. She shared with the board that she is a proponent of video surveillance cameras in schools to decrease disciplinary issues.

During her interview with board members and Superintendent Don Adams, Turner said she is in favor of a raise in taxes only after she has heard all the information, carefully considered the decision and the raises impact on the quality of education students receive. Turner also shared that she isn’t afraid to go against the grain.

“If you are looking for someone who will just agree with everyone then you should look elsewhere because that’s not me,” Turner said.

Turner was one of five applicants to fill the position, which resulted from the removal of Chester Peterman. Peterman failed to attend meetings in February and March and also failed to response to a certified letter. He was voted off the board April 1.

All applicants were interviewed, with Adams asking the questions. He questioned each candidate on their qualities and strengths, perceived responsibilities as a potential board member and commitment to serving.

Board members then discussed the candidates and nominated their top choices. Turner was nominated by board member Jane Penman, while board members Nicholas Grimes and Robin Knauth nominated their top choices. Grimes nominated William Rischar and Knauth nominated Carolyn Erikson.

A discussion followed where board members explained what they felt the three top candidates brought to the “board table.”

Finally, a ballot vote was called for. Voting for Turner were Penman, Spencer Sweeting, Karen Confer, Jerene Milliken, David Stone and Lori Baer. Grimes voted for Rischar and Knauth voted for Erikson.

Turner will take her oath of office at the next regular school board meeting on May 6.

The board then discussed a change order to two softball fields. A vote was passed 8-0 to table the first change order, which would remove the existing grass infield on the middle school’s eastern softball field and replace it with 4 inches of stone and then another 4 inches of Diamond-Tex, a specialized turf for softball fields. The change order would result in an increase cost of $13,608 for the district.

Several board members felt the change order was the result of a miscalculation by the architect, McKissick Associates, of Harrisburg, who designed the plan for the field and that McKissick Associates should be held accountable.

Business Manager Jeffrey Richards will analyze the original building plan and report back to the board with his findings before the matter is voted on.

The second change order, a $9,521 plan to provide 4 inches of stone and 4 inches of Diamond-Tex to the middle school’s western field was approved unanimously.

The board also discussed the renewal of the contract with The Nutrition Group to provide food services for the 2014-15 school year before adjourning.