CLEARFIELD – Mary Anne Jackson of Clearfield was appointed to fill the vacant seat on the Clearfield school board at the beginning of Monday night’s regular meeting.
Jackson received a nomination and second from board members Gail Ralston and Tim Morgan. Board President Larry Putt, Ralston, Morgan and board member Greg Clarke, all voted in favor.
Board members Shawna Rothrock and Susan Mikesell voted in favor of Thomas Ammerman of Clearfield, who had also been nominated and seconded by Rothrock and Mikesell.
Board member Dr. Michael Spencer was absent from the meeting and board member Phil Carr wasn’t present for this board matter.
Jackson will fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of former board member Randy Pataky. Jackson previously served on the board, including as its president.
During a board interview last week, Jackson was asked a series of questions. The first question was why do you want to be on the school board.
Jackson said serving on the school board and being involved with the quality of what is being given to the children – our future – is probably the single-most important thing you could do for your community.
She said the children are the future and what is given to them in an education is the biggest thing the board can do. She would like to make sure that it’s the best it can be and she said she considers it to be a “gift to the future.”
The second question was what do you bring to the table to help the students. Jackson said she would bring experience, having previously served on the board.
She said she has a fairly well-rounded perspective from being a mother, grandmother, former county official and member of Clearfield Borough committees.
However, Jackson went back to her original concept that children are the future and providing them with what it takes to thrive and become the best they can be is the key.
The third question was how do you serve as the voice of dissent. Jackson said she found the question to be puzzling, adding she certainly doesn’t have any problem speaking if she feels “something needs to be said” that hasn’t been given consideration.
She said if things aren’t going well and she has concerns, she doesn’t have any problems speaking out about that either. She believed that on a board, it’s important for everyone to voice their opinions and to be heard, but also to respect others.
Jackson said while she’d be a voice of dissent by “speaking up,” she would listen and adjust her perspective on an issue if necessary.
The final question was with regards to how to handle concerns brought to you outside of a board meeting.
Jackson said first, it’s important to remember that as a board member, you are one. She pointed out that while you have one vote, you are not the outcome. She said when approached outside of a meeting, it’s important to understand the issue.
Jackson said sometimes an issue can be handled by an administrator and it doesn’t even have to become a board issue. When it is a board issue, she said you just listen and advise them to come to a board meeting.
Jackson said as a board member, you’re an elected official and it’s important to remember you’re just one piece of the puzzle and board issues go to the full board before any other consideration is made.
At the close of the interview last week, Ralston asked each candidate about their plans to continue their service and run for election. Jackson indicated plans to continue her service beyond December of 2019.
After Jackson took her oath of office and seat at the board table, Putt thanked all the candidates who expressed interest. He encouraged them to have their names on the ballot come election time.
In other district matters, Business Administrator Sam Maney reported the cyber-charter tuition expenses are expected to increase by 15 percent, or approximately $127,000 for 2017-18 and going forward. The increase, he said, is the equivalent of 1 mill in property taxes, and it will continue to be a challenge.
Maney said expenses were previously calculated based upon actual numbers from the annual financial report. However, that’s been declared unlawful and calculations are now based upon general fund budget numbers with some adjustments.
Maney indicated that there hasn’t been any real resolution, and a retreat is being held in October in State College. He said business managers need to rally together because there needs to be a change in the law.
Additionally, Maney talked to Food Services Director Jeff Kavelak prior to the board meeting, so that he could give an update with the district’s implementation of the Community Eligibility Provision.
Under the new cafeteria program, all students receive free breakfasts and lunches. Maney said at Clearfield Area Elementary, there’s been an increase in breakfast participation by 70-80 students per day, while it’s remained comparable to last year at the Clearfield Area Junior-Senior High School.
Maney said at the CAES, there’s been an increase in lunch participation by 50-60 students per day. The CAJSHS has realized an increase in participation by 100-plus students per day at lunchtime.
Maney said the ala carte purchases have dropped, as expected, but are improving. He said they hope that these numbers will eventually begin to pick up over time.
In May he said the district’s student meal debt was $46,985.02 and it’s since collected $14,758.67, or 31 percent. He said of the remaining $32,226.35, about 20 percent of individuals have made payment arrangements.
Maney said the district will send the final $26,000 on to the collections firm. He said the district isn’t any longer racking up debt and is gradually picking away at the current debt.