The Ligonier Valley School Board formalized changes in the district’s administration at its meeting Monday, approving a five-year contract with incoming superintendent Tim Kantor and choosing a replacement for him in his current role as Ligonier Valley High School principal.
The school board last month approved hiring Kantor to replace superintendent Dr. Christine Oldham, who is set to retire at the end of June. On Monday, the board approved a five-year contract for Kantor, beginning July 1 and running through June 30, 2026 with a starting salary of $152,000.
Oldham has served as the district’s superintendent for 13 years, arriving just ahead of the consolidation of the district’s schools and closure of the former Laurel Valley Middle/High School building.
Kantor has spent all but the first year of his educational career in Ligonier Valley School District, joining the district as a teacher in 2002 and moving to the administration as an assistant principal in 2008.
With Kantor taking over as superintendent in July, the school board tabbed Rachel Kurdziel to replace him as principal at Ligonier Valley High School at a base salary of $116,000. Kurdziel is currently the assistant principal at the high school.
Monday also marked the first day of the 2020-21 school year in which all learners who chose to attend classes in-person were in physical classrooms, as the district returned to full-time in-person instruction for all grades following months of full-remote and hybrid learning.
Oldham said during her superintendent’s report that a portion of the district’s learners opted to remain in or return to either the full-remote or hybrid instructional models.
At the elementary level, she said about 5% of learners at Laurel Valley Elementary and 7.5% of learners at R.K. Mellon Elementary were participating in full-remote or hybrid learning.
Figures increased at the secondary level, with 17% of learners at Ligonier Valley Middle School and 34% of Ligonier Valley High School learners opting for either full-remote or hybrid instruction.
Oldham also reported the district’s new extended school day program is a popular addition, with 133 learners participating in the extra hour of optional instructional time. She said 39 learners at Laurel Valley Elementary have taken advantage of the program, along with 32 at R.K. Mellon, 37 at the middle school and 25 at the high school.
Kantor updated the school board on upcoming events involving the high school for the remainder of the school year. Scheduling for the 2021-22 school year is wrapping up, and eighth-grade move-up is planned for May 3. The following evening, at 6 p.m. May 4, the high school is planning a “Creative Showcase” in the auditorium.
“Since we missed our chorus concert, band concert, musical and play, we’re giving an opportunity for learners to sign up and do whatever they would want to do,” Kantor said. “It’s kind of like a talent show without the competition.”
The district is planning a socially distanced prom event, with learners being bused to the Zone 28 restaurant and entertainment complex in Harmarville from 6 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, May 6.
“Obviously we can’t do dancing socially distanced, so we’re providing other opportunities for them to hang out with their friends,” Kantor explained.
Grand March is set for 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 7 outside the high school, Kantor said.
The annual senior awards ceremony is planned for May 11 in the auditorium, and graduation is scheduled for June 2.
The graduation ceremony will be held outdoors at Weller Field, Kantor said. In case of inclement weather on June 2, the ceremony will be rescheduled as needed to allow for an outdoor event.
Business manager Eric Kocsis also told the board on Monday that based on his review of current year projections and the projections of revenue and expenditures for the 2021-22 school year, he plans to present a preliminary budget at the May 10 school board meeting that includes no tax increase.
In other business, the school board approved:
- An agreement with Premier Audio Video Services in the amount of $18,885 for the purchase and installation of three televisions and audio/video equipment at the high school;
- To have Markosky Engineering Group, Inc. provide engineering and permitting services for the crowning of the football field at Weller Field at a cost of $15,700. The approval is retroactive to March 18;
- To procure bids for the crowning of the football field at Weller Field in preparation for the fall sports seasons. Kantor said the school board should be able to award a bid for the work at the May meeting, noting the field must remain unused for at least 45 days after the work is completed before it’s ready for play. Costs for the improvements to the field were already allocated under the district’s capital improvement plan, he said;
- Incurring lease rental debt by entering into the sublease and guaranty agreement with Eastern Westmoreland Vocational-Technical School Authority;
- Adopting a resolution entering into the lease agreement with the Eastern Westmoreland Vocational-Technical School Authority;
- The proposed Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center general operating budget for the 2021-22 school year with a proposed district cost of $808,880, representing a $14,031 decrease from the 2020-21 budget;
- Awarding bids for Category 2 equipment to SHI International Corp. at a total project cost of $4,375.36, reduced to $1,312.61 after E-Rate reimbursement;
- Renewing the district’s food service management company contract with Metz Culinary Management for the period of July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022;
- Retroactive approval to apply to the Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps AmeriCorps program for four AmeriCorps members through Appalachian Intermediate Unit 8 at a cost of $11,377.88 per position;
- Accepting $50,000 in funds through the Pennsylvania Department of Education: Mobile Science Grant program;
- Retroactive approval for Al Gaiardo to submit a grant application seeking a $1,433.50 grant from the Ligonier Valley School District Foundation, Inc. for basic equipment needs and skill development for the LVHS golf team;
- Adopting the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit (WIU) Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B policies and procedures;
- The Westmoreland County Student Assistance Program agreement for the 2021-22 school year;
- For the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) to experience a field trip to Outdoor Odyssey in Boswell on July 11-16, pending COVID-19 guidelines, at a learner cost of $260 per learner;
- Three intermittent unpaid leave requests from district employees identified only by employee numbers;
- The conclusion of employment for medical reasons for another employee;
- Retroactive approval to hire Elizabeth Zaragoza as an Elementary K-6 substitute for the 2020-21 school year;
- A resolution on staffing for the 2021-22 school year directing the administration to initiate a reduction of staff by attrition, suspension, demotion or reassignment of personnel;
- For James Pleskovitch, a Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School student, to participate in the LVHS boys’ track and field program for the 2020-21 school year with the activity fee and per pupil participation costs being paid by the parent or charter school;
- Retroactive approval of the revised Spectator Guidance. Details of the Athletic Spectator Guidance policy are available on the district’s website;
- Appointing Ryan Podlucky as head girls’ golf coach for the 2021-22 school year at a supplemental salary of $2,774, pending required paperwork;
- Appointing school board member Jennifer Kromel to serve the unexpired term of Anne Urban on the WIU Board of Directors, beginning April 13 through June 30, 2022;
- The agreement in Special Education Matter No. 1 of 2021.