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WIlliamsport Area School District talks mental health, fills vacant board seat

Two new coordinator of trauma and mental health services positions were approved by the Williamsport Area School Board to help to deal with what Dr. Richard Poole, the district’s director of student services, termed a significant growth and need among students K-12 in the district.

“There has always been a need with mental health and trauma with our students, especially with COVID, we’ve seen a significant rise with mental health concerns across our schools,” he said.

“Trauma reveals itself in so many ways,” Poole said, adding that many times mental health issues are invisible. He advocated for a more proactive than reactive approach to deal with trauma and mental health issues.

The district currently employs counselors, school nurses and health room techs as well as three social workers to work through mental health, trauma and truancy issues with the 5,000 students in the district.

By adding the new positions the district is taking a whole school system approach with the two coordinators of trauma and mental health services would provide services and facilitate individual therapy.

The board also approved three new part-time attendance compliance specialist positions. Each would be assigned to a social worker and their duties would include making sure that every school age child is attending school on a regular basis.

All positions will be posted and filled for the start of the 2021-22 school year. Monies from the ESSERS II will help fund the positions for the first three years. Wanda Erb, business manager, said that with these services offered in-house by the time the federal funds are depleted, the district will not need to contract out some of the services so that the district could realize a savings which would then fund the positions.

The board approved Cody Derr as the newest member of the board to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Marc Shefsky. Shefsky’s term ran until the end of this year. Michelle Deaver and Mary Slattery also interviewed for the position.

In other personnel items, the board accepted the resignations of Nancy J. Colley, part-time food service worker; Dawn M. Staggert, administrative support; Elijah C. Clary, part-time equipment manager; and Hannah M. Werner, part-time aide.

The following staff were approved: Theresa L. Montgomery, full-time principal at Jackson Primary School, salary, $100,000; Brianna J. Brungard, temporary professional employee, second grade teacher at Jackson Primary, salary, $52,582; Loren E. Collins, English/language arts teacher at the middle school, salary, $59,729; Brittany T. Naculich, temporary professional employee, math teacher at the middle school, salary, $52,582; Mackenzie C. Ryan, temporary professional employee, special education teacher at the middle school, salary, $52,582; and Cara S. Zortman, temporary professional employee, biology teacher at the high school.

A stipend rate of $1,200 per year was approved for the following high school and middle school student assistance teams for 2020-21: High School, Jessica A. Becker, David R. Ferry, Matthew A. Radspinner (half-year), Heather E. Way, Jennifer Y. Weaver, Kaitlin l. Eck, Susan E. McGehean, Jeremy Steppe and Jennifer J. Weaver. Middle School, Emily B. Linn, Patrick R. Menges, Christie M. Peck, Michael B. Lundy, Marcia L. McCann and Tamra L. Rook.

Destini-Sierra A. Kelch was approved as a substitute at a rate of $120 per day for the first 45 days and $130 per day for days beyond that; Christina M. Boughton was approved as a non-certified substitute teacher at a rate of $90 per day for the first 45 and $110 for any days beyond that; and Ryan C. Buchner, full-time tax examiner at $22.30 per hour.

Position changes approved were: Stephanie M. Pardoe, from virtual school coordinator to a temporary professional employee to teach health and physical education at Cochran Primary, salary, $52,582; Elizabeth A. Sauers, from full-time third grade teacher to elementary mathematics instructional coach; Wendy L. Hinkal, from full-time administrative support II Cochran Primary to full-time administrative support, $19.36 per hour; and Lori A. Williams, from full-time administrative support II at Stevens Primary to administrative support II at Cochran Primary, $21.23 per hour; the elimination of nine vacant part-time custodial positions and the addition of three full-time Class I custodial positions.

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