A large portion of the latest Elizabethtown school board meeting was spent giving recognition for jobs well done. Receiving kudos were local police officers for their support in keeping the Elizabethtown Area School District safe and district staff members who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
Also at the school board meeting on Tuesday, March 27, the board also approved a revised school calendar so that students won’t have to make up the March 21 snow day, allowing school to end as planned on June 7.
Attending the meeting were police chiefs from the three departments that cover municipalities where district schools are located: Chief Edward Cunningham Jr. of Elizabethtown Borough, Chief Mark Mayberry of Northwest Regional and Chief Ed Haugh of Susquehanna Regional. Also present was borough police Officer Richard Regel, the district’s school resource officer.
Superintendent Michele Balliet thanked the chiefs for allowing the SRO to be present in all district schools.
Since 2007, the district has had an SRO at the high school/middle school complex, in the borough. However, it wasn’t until Regel assumed his duties last school year that an SRO has been rotating among all the buildings. Regel is in every building every week, but the schedule is kept confidential.
“This enhanced partnership really has proven to be very critical for us,” Balliet said.
She thanked Cunningham for providing extra support following the Feb. 14 school shooting in Florida and for the March 14 ceremony held by Elizabethtown students honoring the 17 people killed in that shooting. Balliet said there were no incidents at the ceremony, which she described as “very respectful” and “completely politically neutral.”
Balliet said the district has received questions about school safety. She described Regel’s background, including his role as a rapid deployment armed intruder instructor. She said that all staff and students receive ongoing training in A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) drills and that student feedback is included in evaluating the program.
In a related move, the board approved a student-developed school safety survey for students.
Several staff members received the district’s ABCD (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty) Awards. They included Mark Klepping of the buildings and grounds department, for his contributions to the agriculture program, including help with constructing a utility trailer.
Klepping and four fellow departmental employees were recognized for their service when a kitchen fire broke out at the high school/middle school building. When the fire happened, “all these people showed up,” said building and grounds director Adam Bergens. Also showing up were Linda Brandt, Donna Zartman, Brian Miller and Rick Lancaster.
Also receiving ABCD Awards were Julie Wallace, a secretary at Bear Creek School, and Janelle Bitner, a secretary in the district office.
The board also hired Elizabethtown alumnus Walter Smith to replace retiring special education director Monica Steward. The approved personnel report also includes the transfer of a middle school consumer science teacher to the high school. Parent Tara Gensemer urged the board to refill that position.
The board also accepted $5,000 from St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, to be used for student mental health screenings. Richard Schwarzman, assistant superintendent, said that freshmen have been given voluntary screenings the past two years. He said the gift, to be matched by a donor through the Samaritan Center, will allow screenings for 11th-graders starting in the fall.
“We’re delighted to give money away,” said Pastor David Woolverton in presenting the check. “We believe in the power of youth.”