BY PAT FARNELLI
A “memorandum of agreement was approved Monday night to ensure that the transition to natural gas at the Montrose Area High School will be a smooth one.
During the board’s work session, school officials and board members discussed communications with the Leatherstocking Gas company to convert the high school building.
Plans to convert two of the three school district oil burners to natural gas while reserving one capable of burning fuel oil were approved by the board.
President Chris Caterson said that the memorandum was drafted as a way of “putting the heat on them, making sure they get us the heat in time” for next fall.
Superintendent Michael Ognosky said that while the district is hoping for the high school to be hooked up to natural gas before the start of the 2013-14 school year, this contract modification will allow the school buildings to be heated by fuel oil, in case natural gas is not yet available by the cooling September and October months.
In other business, teacher William Host presented a proposal to the board for a solar pavilion to be built on school property as a class project for the advanced physical science students and the practical physics club.
The solar energy project proposal was given out to board members along with blueprints for the 12′ by 18′ pavilion, which can be used for relaxation or picnics by school activity groups, school sports teams, or the class itself.
Host noted that “because it is a building, and an actual building site, we needed blueprints.”
Therefore, he and his students have enlisted the volunteer aid of John Puzo, who did the blueprint drawings; Carlo Schneller, Professional Engineer who signed and sealed the plans, and Eric Lewis with Spectrum Electric, who will make the final connection, and whose employee Jamie Holbert has worked closely with students on the electrical code for the project.
The Susquehanna County Council of Governments has jurisdiction over the proposed project, and Ed Hudock will be the residential code enforcement officer.
Bruce Costelli of the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center will be conducting classes on hand tool safety and protection with the students.
After some time spent in discussion, Ognosky asked Host what he was asking the board to do.
Host said that he wanted to ask permission to build a pavilion as a class project.
Although he is not certain about the total costs at this time, Host said, “I really believe in my heart that I am only asking the board for $3,000.”
He said that some fundraising is underway and he has drafted a letter for local businesses that know him from the 10 or so years he has been a SADD program advisor, asking for donations for this project.
Ognosky said that he thought $4,500 might be a more realistic estimate, and that there are funds available for projects like this one.
He cautioned Host that if he relied on fundraisers from the community, the project might be held up in the process.
The board approved the project, as well as allocating $4,500 in reserve funds for the remaining materials and other expenses.
Several resignations were accepted with regret: Joseph Gilhool as head junior high girls’ basketball coach, effective immediately, John Cherundolo as assistant track coach, effective Apr. 13, Mary Gesford as assistant girls’ basketball coach, effective immediately.
The board approved changes for first reading of changes to policies regarding purchases, and use of AED/CPR equipment.
Three retirements of professional staff members were accepted with regret: Leslie A. Reidy, third grade teacher at Lathrop Street Elementary; and Cynthia D. Goodman, third grade teacher at Choconut Valley Elementary; Polly Streeter Pritchard, French teacher at the junior-senior high school.
An unpaid leave of absence was approved for Deborah Link, kindergarten teacher at Choconut Valley Elementary Teacher, from Apr. 3 through the end of the current school year, and further accept with regret her resignation from her position effective June 13.
The retirement of Sarah Springsteen, food service worker at Choconut, was accepted with regret.
The position of facilities and transportation director will be posted soon, currently held by Rickie Clapper, whose retirement was approved at last month’s meeting.