2010-02-13 / News

Coudersport School District brings on interim superintendent

Former N. Potter superintendent to fill void while directors search

Changes are continuing in the Coudersport Area School District administration.

At this week’s meeting, school board members named Robert C. Smith as interim superintendent of schools. A former administrator with Northern Potter School District, he begins service on Feb. 26 for $370 per day, working an average of two to three days weekly.

Smith will succeed Rick Toner while the district searches for a new superintendent. Difficulties between Toner and some of the nine board members arose last year, when some disagreed with his recommendation on transportation contracts.

Toner, whose contract has not expired, told the board his resignation is for retirement purposes. On Monday, he commended school staff and the student body, saying, “I’ve never seen such a respectful and courteous group of students.”

He also praised district secretary Kathy Wiltrout and business manager Pam Anderson – who is also leaving -- along with the administrative and secretarial staffs of both schools.

“When you know it’s time, it’s time,” he remarked. “Sometimes there are issues, but it’s more important to let things go and move on.”

Also on Monday, the board accepted Anderson’s resignation. She has taken a position in the Portville, N.Y., school district. While the board voted to hire former assistant business manager Connie Benson to carry out some of the business manager’s duties, it was later learned that Benson will be unable to do so due to a family issue. Assistant Business Manager Joanne Gleason has since agreed to take on some of the responsibilities until a replacement for Anderson is found.

In a 7-2 vote, directors retained the Wellsboro law firm of Cox, Stokes and Lantz as the district’s second solicitor, with Christopher Lantz serving at an hourly rate of $95 with no retainer required. Christian T. Mattie is already serving as the solicitor, but according to Board President Joe Lagrua, the district has exhausted the retainer paid to Mattie for services through June and pays an hourly rate of $150 for his services.

Anderson clarified that the board is still able to consult Mattie.

“He provided more service than his retainer cost,” she explained. “There are certain things you can call and ask him that he doesn’t charge for.”

“I’m not sure I understand what we’re doing here. The point is that if you call Mattie and something is not covered by the retainer, it’s $150; if you call Lantz, it’s $95?” asked board member Micki Brown. “I don’t mind spending less money so I’ll say yes, as long as it’s clear.”

Other members voting in favor were Joe Lagrua, Marcia Lagrua-Jones, Russ Streich, Jalyn Tezik, Scott Bruzzi and Darla Cowburn. Tim Watson and Drew Robinson dissented.

In other business, Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Steve Gerner was authorized to proceed with repairing flood damage at the CARP baseball field. Gerner estimated that the repairs could cost $10,000 to $12,000 and noted that this is the second time in recent years that the field has been damaged by high water.

Robinson suggested that a search be conducted for an area where a new field could be located.

Board members voted to again retain Lucy Curley as grant consultant at a fee to the district of $840 per month. Curley was employed in a joint effort of all five Potter County districts last year and was able to secure approximately $1 million in grants.

Linda Hamilton, John Snyder and Jim Wilkinson were appointed as trustees of the Henry W. Staiger Memorial Award, which will be given annually beginning with the 2010 graduating class.

Several new courses were approved for the 2010-2011 school year: digital photography, music theory, selected topics in American history and government, and vocal repertoire. Board members also approved the administration’s recommendation to increase the required number of science credits from 3.5 to 4.0, to bring the subject into line with other core courses.

Child rearing leave was granted for Katie Gentzyel April 12 and Holly Roessner.

An exchange between board member Darla Cowburn and Elementary Principal Sherry Cowburn about inclusion of special education teachers in the curriculum mapping process was referred to the Curriculum Committee. Also referred to the committee was a parent objection to students viewing the R-rated film “Lord of the Flies” as part of the curriculum. High School Principal Alanna Huck noted that permission slips would normally be circulated in conjunction with the activity.

Return to top