Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center nursing program drama ends

By Mark Guydish - [email protected]
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PLAINS TWP. — Since at least March the committee that runs the Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center has refused to vote on one item proposed at several meetings for the practical nursing program: a request for a $5,000 stipend for nursing administrative manager Cheryl Woloski, to compensate for extra responsibilities she had taken on.

At Monday’s monthly meeting, the same item was on the agenda, and it was unanimously approved without comment.

Six other items regarding the nursing program were also passed unanimously under the same vote. It was a turn around from what had been happening since at least March, when the board began tabling almost every proposal from the nursing program director. The difference? A new director was sitting in on Monday’s meeting.

Several members of the Joint Operating Committee — comprised of representatives from school boards of the districts that send students to the center — had been at odds with former director Mary Beth Pacuska, who offered a sometimes tearful, sometimes defiant resignation at the May 21 meeting and left the post Aug. 1. She accused the board of undercutting her efforts to run the nursing program effectively

At the Aug. 6 meeting the JOC ignored prior pleas from Pacuska, nursing program staff and former students to promote from within and hired Gail Holby, who was working as Wilkes University Health and Wellness Services Coordinator at the time. Holby is the sister of Hanover Area School Board Member Frank Ciavarella, who attended the August JOC meeting. While Hanover Area does send students to the CTC, Ciavarella does not sit on the JOC. The Hanover Area representative is John Mahle.

Monday was the first JOC meeting with Holby present as director of the nursing program. While Pacuska had to push to get limited support from the board and often saw requests — including for a new computer server and the stipend for Woloski — flatly rejected, that logjam appeared gone.

Along with the stipend for Woloski, the JOC approved: Appointment of part-time substitute Melissa Roehrig at $225 a day, a salary change for instructor Misty Cook, payment of a $2,875 annual fee for accreditation of the nursing program, renewal of a contract with Exam Soft for student testing for two years at about $10,000, and appointment of Colleen Kaskel as acting assistant coordinator at $225 per day. The board also accepted the resignation of teacher associate Ryan Culverson.

Unrelated to the nursing program the board granted “permanent professional contracts to three employees who have fulfilled three years of service and got six satisfactory evaluations: Kathryn Reynolds in marketing, Kenneth Valaitis in welding, and John Quinn III, a career academic accountability resource program instructor.

Quinn is the son of JOC member John Quinn, a representative from the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board who abstained from the vote. He has rigorously defended his son’s work at the center.

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By Mark Guydish

[email protected]

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish