Ligonier Borough junior council member Izabella Wentzell is looking to give her schoolmates an opportunity to make their voices heard among the borough’s decision-makers.

Wentzell, a senior at Ligonier Valley High School, told the district’s school board Monday about plans to reach out to high school and middle school learners to get their opinions on an array of topics so borough council members can gain perspective on the wants and needs of their youngest constituents.

Council in September passed a resolution creating the junior position eligible to all Ligonier Borough high school and college-aged students in conjunction with the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, and in October appointed Wentzell to the position.

In her role as junior council member, Wentzell is able to attend and participate in discussions during all public council meetings and committee workshops, but will not have voting power or be able to join executive sessions. Her term will run through the end of 2019-20 school year.

Wentzell told the school board she’s drafted an online survey for Ligonier Valley learners, with topics ranging from hoped-for upgrades to the borough’s parks and playgrounds to whether they and their families visit Fort Ligonier during the annual Fort Days festivities.

The school board at Monday’s meeting approved for the surveys to be administered to learners in the district, as determined by building principals.

The board also heard from superintendent Dr. Christine Oldham about progress on the district’s next comprehensive plan, which is still in its early stages.

Oldham said after the comprehensive planning committee’s Jan. 21 meeting, some tweaks to the district’s mission and vision statements are in the works.

“We really felt that the direction we’ve been moving in has been a good direction, so most of our hopes for accomplishment are really continuing in that direction and filling in some loose ends,” Oldham said.

The committee’s meeting opened with a quiz of sorts, Oldham said, testing whether committee members could recite the district’s mission from memory.

“Most of the people on the committee were on the committee that developed that mission, and we have it at the top of every board agenda,” she said. “And nobody can recite that mission, which tells us it’s too long.”

The district’s current mission statement reads: “Children of the Ligonier Valley School District will be provided comprehensive educational opportunities in safe and supportive environments to maximize individual potential.”

That mission is set to be stripped down to “LVSD will maximize individual potential,” when the committee eventually makes its recommendations to the board, Oldham said.

“I think one of the noteworthy things is that when we’re talking about maximizing individual potential, we’re not distinguishing between little learners and big learners,” Oldham said. “All of us are learners. We’re talking birth to adulthood.”

The committee’s recommendation for the district’s new vision statement, developed during the same Jan. 21 meeting, is that “Ligonier Valley School District provides collaboration and communicating among vested stakeholders to create a safe, supportive and caring culture. Partnerships with community are embraced to expand opportunities for learners. These partnerships allow engagement in authentic, personalized learning experiences that address the needs of birth through adult learners, resulting in individuals who maximize potential,” Oldham said.

The committee will continue working on other elements of the comprehensive plan in coming months, she noted, with another update to the board set for next month’s meeting.

In other business, the school board approved:

  • Accepting the resignations, for retirement purposes, of Ligonier Valley Middle School teacher Rhonda Bell and Laurel Valley Elementary School teachers Diane Cramer, Deborah Miller and Darla Zelensky, all effective at the end of the 2019-20 school term;
  • Retroactive approval to procure bids for E-RATE eligible category 2 products for the 2020-21 budget year;
  • Accepting the Exxon Mobil Educational Alliance grant in the amount of $500 to be used at Laurel Valley Elementary, made possible by CrossAmerica Partners, ExxonMobil and Uni-Mart in New Florence;
  • A three-year contract from 2021 through 2023 with Herff Jones to publish the Ligonier Valley Middle School yearbooks at a cost of $7,688 per year;
  • For the administration to contract with Idlewild & SoakZone to schedule the school-community picnic for Friday, June 12, at no cost to the district;
  • For the Class of 2020 to experience a field trip to Hershey Park and Gettysburg on May 15-16 at a cost of $100 per learner and $3,000 from the class account;
  • For Wayne Waugh to attend the Trauma Informed School Conference in St. Charles, Missouri, from June 29 through July 1 at a cost of approximately $1,200;
  • For Roger Beitel, Corey Turcheck and Brett Marabito to attend the Pennsylvania State Football Coaches Association Clinic in State College on Feb. 13-15, with the only cost being for substitutes for two days;
  • The district’s Special Education Plan Report for July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2023;
  • Hiring Rebecca Kistler and Laurel Ross as emergency substitutes for the 2019-20 school year;
  • Accepting the resignation of Karyn Graves, life skills aide at R.K. Mellon Elementary, retroactive to Jan. 28;
  • Hiring Desiree Muir as a secretary at Ligonier Valley Middle School beginning Jan. 30 at an hourly rate of $15;
  • For Nathaniel Neiderhiser, a home-schooled learner, to participate in the LVHS boys’ track and field program for the 2019-20 school year.

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