Ellwood School Board Holds Special Meeting

There has been plenty of talk regarding change in the Ellwood City Area School District for the upcoming school year in recent months.

The retirement of Superintendent Frank Aloi is what began the surprising series of events when he announced that he would be leaving the district at last month’s meeting, effective as of July 16, 2014.

With no time to hold interviews before the end of the fiscal year, the board named Assistant Superintendent Joe Mancini as the active Superintendent for the 2014-2015 year and eliminated the position of Assistant Superintendent.

In less than a month, the school district has had two more resignations. This includes Assistant High School Principal Mark Frengel, who will resume the Principal position in the Laurel School District, and the Boys Head Basketball Coach Anthony Ovial.

School board members congratulated Frengel on his new position at last night’s meeting and commended him on his time at Lincoln.

“I’m really going to miss this place,” Frengel said. “I made a lot of good connections with students and faculty members. I really learned a lot here.”

Another discussion held at the June meeting was the possibility of the closing of Perry Intermediate School, reducing the number of credits required to graduate, modifying the kindergarten program from full to half-time, and the possibility of transitioning from the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center to the Beaver County Career and Technical Center.

This specifically concerned Ellwood Area Education Association Co-Presidents Kim DeLoia and and Sam Barry as well as members. They requested to be involved any decisions regarding the above proposals to which the board agreed.

In other matters, board member Renee Pitrelli showed apprehension regarding two issues during the meeting.

The first concerned the motion to allow the J.V. and Varsity Cheerleaders to attend the UCA Cheer Camp at Slippery Rock University July 31 through Aug. 3 at no cost to the district.

Pitrelli questioned the means of transportation to Slippery Rock University and where Ellwood’s male cheerleader would be sleeping during the course of the camp.

The camp is a mandatory requirement for cheerleaders with a $200 fee that parents were informed would be out of pocket in April. Being that the board is “anti-pay-to-play,” the cost also became an issue to other board members.

Because Pitrelli, Anthony Buzzelli, Matt Morella, Leroy Cortez and Kathy Pansera were the only board members present last night, there were not enough members to approve the cheer camp through a majority vote.

The motion was tabled until the end of July and further information was requested from Head Coach Karen Steilner.

The second matter involved pod scheduling at Perry Lower Intermediate and Hartman Intermediate Schools.

Pitrelli, who has a son in fifth grade, was worried about the lack of consistency among the number of teachers each student has within the grade levels.

Currently, third graders either stay in the same classroom all day or rotate between three teachers, fourth graders rotate between two teachers, fifth graders rotate between four teachers and sixth graders rotate between three teachers.

Last year, fifth graders only moved between three teachers until an extra 45 minute rotation was added this year. She stated that she did know about the change and would like to be informed of decisions such as this that would affect the new school year.

Frank Keally, Elementary Principal, responded that he had observed all of his teachers and had placed them in their specific position due to their strengths and passions that would maximize the greatest possible achievement for the students.

Other board members agreed that they were unaware of the change but trusted Keally to continue making said decisions with what he believes is best for the students.

“I believe Mr. Keally’s interests are for the kids,” Pansera said. “I don’t want to be the one to tie his hands if he’s going to make our kids successful.”

No changes have been made regarding elementary scheduling. The board plans to reconvene at Lincoln High School on Thursday, Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.

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