Brice Benson, current principal at Smethport Area High School, will become the district’s next superintendent in July.

SMETHPORT — Brice Benson, principal of the Smethport Area Junior-Senior High School, will become superintendent of the school district this summer when David London retires.

At Monday’s school board meeting, directors approved a five-year contract for Benson from July 10, 2021, through June 30, 2026.

Benson will serve as assistant to the superintendent under contract salary and terms from July 1, 2021, to July 9, 2021.

Benson was appointed principal at the high school in December 2018. Prior to that, he served three years as principal of the Ridgway Area High School, which was recognized in 2018 as one of eight Pennsylvania Blue Ribbon Schools.

Benson is a former social studies teacher in the St. Marys Area School District where he also coached boys’ basketball.

As an administrator, he is a former secondary principal in the Oswayo Valley School District.

A native of the area, Benson holds a bachelor’s degree from Houghton College and a Master of Science in educational leadership from Duquesne University.

London informed the school board in December of his intentions to retire at the conclusion of this school year.

Prior to accepting the chief school administrator’s position in Smethport in 2018, London, a former mathematics teacher, was principal of Punxsutawney Area High School for 17 years and assistant principal for two years.

In another personnel matter, the board created the position of assistant technology coordinator that carries a $61,000 salary and approved the appointment of Douglas Rose to this job, effective upon release from his current employer. All salary and benefits are to be prorated for the 2020-21 school year, if applicable.

Directors also approved adjustments and recommendations for the practices associated with short-term school closures and shifts to remote learning.

These recommendations are as follows:

* When “countable” case numbers reach two to four cases at a school building, clean, sanitize and disinfect areas of concern, complete contact tracing, contact the Department of Health, assess building situation, assess school spread, and COVID-19 situations in the immediate community. Based on the results, consider a short-term closure or shift to remote learning for one to five days. School(s) may remain open for in-person instruction if cleaning and tracing are completed and other factors are workable.

* When “countable” case numbers reach five cases at a school building, the school(s) will shift to remote instruction, the district will clean, sanitize and disinfect areas of concern, complete contact tracing, contact DOH, assess staffing situation, assess school spread, and COVID-19 situations in the immediate community. Administration will monitor the local situation weekly or every two weeks after the initial shift to see if returning to school is feasible. It is likely that the next shift to remote learning will start out as a two-week shift and continue with longer term potential. Students without internet and requiring specialized training may be permitted to attend school. Depending on circumstances, either school or both schools may shift to remote learning.

* During any shift to remote learning, available staff will report to school and work from school mitigation requirements in effect.

* During any closure or any shift in remote learning, all after-school and extra-curricular activities at the school(s) are cancelled.

In other matters, directors:

*approved an agreement with the Potter County Education Council to provide a career counselor for the district;

*accepted the resignation of Bryan Nelson; and

*recognized Junior High and Senior High Students of the Month: Owen Rounsville and Katelyn Dunn, respectively.

In his report to the board, London said Feb. 16 will be the makeup day for President’s Day, Feb. 15.

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