A field of 13 candidates got whittled down to 6 for November as 4 candidates received double nominations in the race for the Shamokin Area School Board. Bernie Sosnoski, Robert C. Getchey, Ron McElwee and Charles Shuey were nominated on both ballots. Jeff Kashner and incumbent Mark Anonia will square off in November. They will join incumbents Tracey Witmer, LaRue Beck, Ed Griffiths, and Brian Persing when the board reorganizes after the fall election.
Incumbents Todd Hockenbrock, Charles Carpenter, Barry Rebuck and Daniel Venn who ran as the "The Team" in 2007 were ousted.
The new board will have most of 2012 to prepare for what could be a 4.3 million dollar shortfall. Shamokin Area is fine for 2011-12.
As much as people want change at the SASD, things stayed boring for now in Northumberland County with incumbents Vinny Clausi, Frank Sawicki (D-I)) and Merle Phillips (R-I) joined by newcomer Rick Shoch (R) for the 3-member board.
Some of the issues facing Northumberland County are funding an OHV Park near Shamokin and ongoing employee lawsuits.
Some winners on Tuesday were Tracey Witmer and Myron Turlis. Witmer led the charge to oust "The Team" on election day. Turlis, the mayor of Kulpmont, had a great showing finishing just behind Sawicki.
It is a sad day," commented Shamokin Area Superintendent James Zack after the board voted to eliminate the K-4 program that affects more than 100 students. "This isn't something we recommended or want to do, but we really have no choice. It hurts to cut K-4. It's not an easy decision, but we had to move in this direction."
Zack, who noted the district is facing a potential $4.3 million deficit in the near future, said a proposal was made to Shamokin Area Education Association to increase class size at the elementary school in an effort to retain the K-4 program, but he said the teachers' union did not accept the offer.
The superintendent, who did not blame the union for the board's decision to eliminate the K-4 program, said the four teachers currently involved in the program will be reassigned within the elementary school. He noted five elementary school teachers are retiring at the end of the school year. "The only good thing about this is that the K-4 teachers won't lose their jobs," Zack said. "We will have enough money in the budget to cover their salaries."In a strange irony, the measure passed on a 6-2 vote with Witmer siding with "The Team."
Later in the meeting, the first shots were fired between Charles Shuey, Director Griffiths and Superintendent James Zack.
At the beginning of the meeting, Charles Shuey, who earned the Democratic and Republican nominations for a seat on Shamokin Area School Board in Tuesday's primary election, asked Zack why he didn't attend a recent meeting in Harrisburg with state Sen. John Gordner to discuss proposed drastic cuts in education in the state budget.
Shuey said Zack was one of two superintendents in the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit who did not attend the session.
Zack told Shuey he had a conflict with another meeting that day and was working in the district. "I didn't think that was a priority since I have met with state legislators Kurt Masser and Lynda Culver in the past to discuss the proposed cuts," Zack said. "I thought my time was better spent working in the school district. I was here at work doing my job."
Griffiths criticized Shuey, who has lodged numerous complaints at school board meetings in recent years, for "attacking" Zack for doing his job.
"Why is Mr. Gordner so concerned about our superintendent not being present at a meeting?" Griffiths asked. "He hasn't brought much industry to our area over the years."
Griffiths' response prompted Shuey to reply, "Maybe that's why the election went the way it did." Shuey's comment was in reference to the four incumbents (Venn, Hockenbrock, Rebuck and Carpenter) known as "The Team" being defeated in the election.
Griffiths then said, "You got your shot in, now sit down."With a project 4.3 million dollar shortfall for 2012-13, and the "spineless one" still being in office, the new board should not waste time on the following:
-Running the superintendent out of town.
-Firing the football coach.
-micromanaging day-to-day operations.
-reignite old political battles.
These have all been "oldies, but goodies" but the clock is ticking.