WILKES-BARRE — New school board makeup, same school board officers.
Three new members joined the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board during the annual reorganization meeting Tuesday, creating potential for a shake-up of board dynamics. But when the first order of business came up — election of a board president and vice president — the board opted to flip the two men already holding those positions.
Current Vice President Louis Elmy was elected president while current President John Quinn was elected vice president.
Newcomers Joe Caffrey, Denise Thomas and Ned Evans were sworn in along with incumbents Christine Katsock and The Rev. Shawn Wallace.
Wallace had been chosen by the board earlier this year to complete the term of Robert Corcoran when he moved to Germany, but Wallace resigned his seat last month to apply for a vacancy when Maryanne Toole resigned after announcing she was moving out of state. Corcoran’s term ended this year; Toole’s term expires in 2015, giving Wallace two more years on the board without facing an election.
Caffrey, Thomas and Evans are former district employees. Caffrey is a retired teacher and guidance counselor, Evans a retired teacher and principal, and Thomas worked as attendance officer until winning the election. She said she resigned last month, action mandated by state law in order to join the board.
Asked after the meeting what issues were on the top of their lists, Thomas and Evans repeated campaign promises to work to place metal detectors in all schools. Thomas also hopes to improve communication between the board and staff and the public, while Evans said he will start contacting legislators to push for a reduction in the number of state standardized tests students must take.
Wallace said he feels the board has been making progress since he joined, and that revamping the hiring policy to make it “fair and equitable” is his primary goal. The district had no written teacher hiring policy for decades, and one was in the works for nearly two years before being approved in November, 2012. but members have expressed dissatisfaction and have launched a committee to review and revamp the policy.
All five members were sworn in separately, using different Bibles. Caffrey, Evans, Thomas and Wallace were sworn in by Luzerne County Judge William Amesbury, while Katsock was sworn in by District Judge Diana Malast.
Elmy was the sole nominee for president and was elected 8-1 with Katsock voting no. Quinn and James Susek were nominated for vice president, with Quinn, Caffrey, Elmy, Thomas and Dino Gallela voting for Quinn, and Susek, Evans and Walker voting for Susek. Katsock voted no for both men.