January is School Board Appreciation month, and presentations were made to members from all four schools in the Bradford Area School District to show their gratitude for the efforts of the board during Monday’s school board meeting.

Students from George G. Blaisdell Elementary School presented board members and Superintendent Katharine Pude with superhero accessories, including a cape, badge, mask, hat, medal and wand, with a narrator explaining the importance of each piece of the superhero wardrobe.

The presentation ended with “Thank you for being a superhero to the whole district.”

School Street Elementary School created a video of students sharing their thoughts on what school board members do for the district, including help keep students safe, help obtain school supplies and help to prepare students for higher learning opportunities. Each school board member was also given a handcrafted token of appreciation.

Floyd C. Fretz Middle School Principal Tina Slaven explained that, in an effort to “change things up,” this year she reached out to students and staff to get ideas to show appreciation, rather than have students present a musical performance.

“It made my heart so full to see how many teachers and students came forward with things to do to recognize the school board,” Slaven said.

Members of the Builders Club were present to explain the various ways students showed gratitude, including the decoration of two bulletin boards in the Multi-Purpose Room, the creation of owl cups, pies, bookmarks and gifts of a small plant and a Fretz Spirit shirt to each board member. Various groups and classes contributed to create the gifts board members received.

The art department at Bradford Area High School crafted bowls for each board member, which were handed out by BAHS students as Dean of Students Ken Coffman thanked the board for the many ways they help the district provide academic opportunities, school safety and support. He noted it was important to recognize the work the board does to provide opportunities for students to grow outside the classroom as well.

In other business, the board recognized Dylan Baldwin of GGB and McKennah Williams of School Street for winning the Christmas Card Design competition. Each winner was awarded a $25 gift certificate for their entry, and Pude noted that the district received compliments on their cards this year with the reindeer-themed artwork they displayed.

New contracts for Pude and Assistant Superintendent Samuel Johnson were approved pending the addition of certain language related to a termination or buyout, which is required by the state of Pennsylvania. This language is expected to be added to the contracts in the near future. Board President Shane Oschman thanked board member Hiel Bartlett for bringing the omission to the board’s attention. These new contracts will be effective July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2025.

The new contracts are written in an effort to address an imbalance created by the previous contract. The previous contracts dictated a specific percentage increase for both the superintendent and assistant superintendent over the term of the contract, while pay increases for the teachers changed each year. The board unanimously approved the new contracts, which Oschman explained were written to the effect that Pude and Johnson will receive the same pay increase as the teachers going forward.

Resignations were approved for several personnel, including BAHS Science teacher Pamela Smeigh Digel, effective Dec. 18, 2019, after 35 years of teaching (this was approved at the board’s December meeting but had to be re-approved due to an adjustment to the date); School Street 5th grade teacher Keri Baldwin effective Dec. 30, 2019, after 17 years of service; Thomas Mongillo as a second shift custodian at GGB, effective Jan. 13, 2020 after 11 years of service and BAHS Social Studies teacher Alison Hulings, effective Jan. 24, 2020, after three years of service.

The resignation of Lisa Fedak as Fretz Play Director was also approved. This was a necessary action as Fedak is on sabbatical and can not fulfill the role because a sabbatical also acts as a leave of absence without pay from all other activities.

Several properties were approved for sale from the County Repository, including 292 South Avenue, 15 Cole Avenue, 319 Jackson Avenue, 319 Congress Street, 173 South Avenue, 112 Summer Street, 130 Barbour Street, 50 Rochester Street, 9 Rochester Street, 1108 South Avenue and 71 Willoughby Road in Gifford to various individuals seeking to purchase these lots. Meanwhile, consent to sell several properties, deemed beyond the scope of renovations, was declined. Those properties include two parcels on West Corydon Street, 48 Hobson Place, 117 High Street and 29 Linwood Avenue.

(Editor’s note: Further information on the contracts for the superintendent and assistant superintendent will be forthcoming.)