Northwest school board rejects busing changes

By Tom Huntington - For Times Leader
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UNION TWP. — On a split 5-4 vote, the Northwest Area School Board this week rejected a proposed change in bus carriers for two routes for the 2018-19 term.

The vote came after Ed Barchik, an officer of the Barchik Bus Co., protested a proposal by Adam Sorber, transportation and technology director, to have routes 3 and 11 serviced by Kabata Transportation instead of Barchik.

Sorber contended the change would result in a monetary and miles-traveled savings for the district.

Barchik, who said his company has been associated with Northwest since 1965, argued the move represented an “act of bad faith” and wasn’t consistent with a five-year contract his firm has with Northwest.

Barchik also argued that since he purchased two new buses within the past year, “We made a significant investment that is intended to provide consistently good service to the district and now, what you are proposing could also hurt us significantly.”

Board president Gary Boberick said the intent of the proposal “was not to hurt you.” Boberick was one of five directors to oppose taking Barchik off the two routes. Besides Boberick, Alton Farver, Gerald Conger, Clement Benson and Peter Lanza cast no votes.

Voting in favor of the change were directors Ryan Sutliff, Leigh Bonczewski, Marvin LeValley and Ed Beleski.

Settlement, state grant

While the directors were split on the busing issue, they were unanimous in approving a $15,000 settlement in a case involving a special-needs student who was identified only by a student number.

Solicitor Angela Evans said privacy issues prevented officials from discussing the case although Evans acknowledged that after legal action was threatened, the board decided to settle out of court. An agreement stipulated $7,500 in education compensation and $7,500 for attorney fees.

It was also announced by director of district operations Betsy Ellis that Northwest was in receipt of a $170,000 state grant to finance a pre-kindergarten program in 2018-19. Ellis said the money will pay for staff salaries, educational materials and supplies.

In other business:

• The board approved Joseph Zelinske as primary school head teacher and Patricia Axtell as intermediate head teacher.

• The board gave Ellis the OK to post and advertise the position of school police officer.

• The board also agreed to advertise the proposed position of full-time technology specialist.

• The board was told by Ellis that Aug. 16 has been scheduled as the day that Chromebook computer orientation will be conducted for parents and students.

• The board accepted the resignation of Leora Noss as para-professional and acted to appoint Margaret Obuhosky as a part time para-professional.

• The board approved the purchase ($2,300) of a shed from Red Rock Mini Barns to house the water pump and controls for the field hockey complex.

• The board also accepted the bid of Mesko Glass ($7,165) to replace mechanical room and kitchen doors at the high school.

• The board acted on coaching assignments that included Lou DiPasquale as head baseball coach; Kevin Harvey as softball coach and Todd Culver as track and field coach. The resignation of Brian Reed as assistant basketball coach was accepted.

• The board also named these football assistant coaches: Bryce Harrison ($1,900), Bob McCoy ($900), William Miller ($900) and Jeff Sorber ($900). Clement Benson is serving as a volunteer assistant.

• The board acted to appoint James Martin as middle school and high school gifted class coordinator and Patricia Axtell as elementary gifted class coordinator.

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By Tom Huntington

For Times Leader