The Derry Area School District Board of Directors on Thursday accepted the retirement of a secretary for the assistant superintendent after 36 years of service.
Rachelle Snyder will retire from the school district July 5, making her the second secretary in the administration building to retire this year. The board of directors accepted Brenda Bitz’s retirement last month. Bitz, who will retire Dec. 31, has spent 31 years with the district.
Both Superintendent Greg Ferencak and Assistant Superintendent Casey Long noted the “wealth of knowledge” leaving the district.
“Both Brenda and Rachelle are a wealth of information, a wealth of knowledge, that really make this district move,” Ferencak said.
Long echoed Ferencak’s sentiments.
“It’s going to be a great loss because they are both great people,” Long said.
Snyder started at the high school in 1987 before moving to the administrative building in 1998. Her 36 years with the district makes her one, if not the longest current tenured employee, Ferencak said.
Both Snyder and Bitz work in the same office and have been the “pulse of the district” over the past two decades, Ferencak said.
Replacing the two secretaries will be DASD employee Caitlin Wightman. Wightman was previously the accounts payable secretary. She will begin July 1 in the administrative office.
Ferencak said the district has worked to eliminate positions as employees retire in order to cut costs and avoid unnecessarily furloughing employees. The practice has resulted in no employees being furloughed in more than a decade, he said.
“We want to strategize there, who do we not have to replace to prevent furloughs,” Ferencak said. “If I’m asking people to look at absorbing positions, then (the administration) needs to be doing the same.
“I want to practice what I preach and try to lead by example.”
For Ferencak, retaining employees for a long period of time and moving them around the district is more beneficial for all parties instead of firing them due to a harsh financial situation.
The high number of years many employees spend at the district is a testament to what makes DASD so special, Ferencak said.
“It’s a tough discussion to have with someone,” Ferencak said. “(A teacher), certified in seven to 12 (grade), and they’re in the high school, and now you got to go to the middle school.
“They don’t want to, but it’s much better doing that than it is … to tell them they don’t have a job when they have a family at home. So that’s what we try to avoid at all costs.”
Wightman will take over duties in July and work with Bitz for the rest of the calendar year before taking on the role herself. Long said he is excited to see Wightman step up and work for the top district administrators.
“So, it will be new, there will be challenges, but we’re excited in what the future holds,” Long said.
In other business, the board of directors approved the 2023 summer band camp.
The band camp will cost $25 per student and will last six weeks. Students will be able to utilize school transportation to and from the school. The camp will help students maintain proficiency in their instruments over the summer break.
In other business, the board of directors:
- Approved the change in status of Thomas Esposito from an elementary health and physical education teacher to the school district K-12 attendance officer, effective for the 2023-24 school year;
- Approved the change in status of Jaclyn Chimino from a K-5 elementary teacher to a Title I math teacher, effective for the 2023-24 school year;
- Accepted the resignation of Nathan Keller as a boys varsity basketball third assistant coach, effective at the end of the 2022-23 school year;
- Accepted the resignation of Jessica Arrigonie as the middle school swimming head coach, effective at the end of the 2022-23 school year;
- Hired Debbie Bushey as a varsity cheerleading assistant coach, effective for the 2023-24 school year;
- Hired Trenton Hoag as the varsity boys soccer assistant coach, effective for the 2023-24 school year, pending receipt of all necessary clearances and documentation;
- Approved a two-year agreement for 80% of the district’s natural gas commodity at a net price of $3.65/DTH with Snyder Brothers Inc. for the period of Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, 2025, as recommended by KEYTEX Energy, and
- Approved an agreement between DASD and Outside In for counseling services effective for the 2023-24 school year.
Before adjourning for the evening, board President Dave Krinock apologized for the number of times the school board meetings have started later than expected due to executive sessions. He suggested that the start time for future meetings be pushed to 6:45 p.m.
The other board members present agreed with pushing back the start time so residents are not waiting too long.
The board’s solicitor, Ned Nakles, suggested the meeting time change be formally adopted at the next meeting, allowing enough time to notify the public properly.
The board of directors’ next meeting June 1 will be held at the regular time – 6:30 p.m. – at the high school audion.
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