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Salisbury school board members honored for School Director Recognition month

The Salisbury Township School Board held its monthly meeting directly following the meeting of the operations committee Jan. 13 via Zoom.

January celebrates School Director Recognition month. Traditionally, an in-person presentation of gifts and messages of thanks would be delivered at the administration building to mark the occasion.

The celebration looked a bit different this year since school board meetings have been virtual for the past 10 months.

Salisbury High School student Janeida Johnson read a letter of appreciation to the board members, saying, “We understand that this last year has not been easy on anybody. (We are) grateful for your guidance and looking forward to seeing your leadership and decisions pay off for us in the future.”

Salisbury Middle School student Meredith Kelly read an appreciation letter as well, saying “we thank you for your ever constant support.”

Other special recognitions included the acknowledgment of the retirement of two dedicated Salisbury educators: Stephen Hilaire, science teacher at SMS with over 27 years of service and Diane Walbert, a part-time one-to-one instructional assistant at Salisbury Elementary School with over 31 years of service.

Additionally, several personnel changes were approved when brought before the board.

Resignations were accepted for Lindsey Case and Corey Cesare, part-time one-to-one instructional assistants at SMS, Cortney Woodruff, part-time RTI/IST instructional assistant at SES, Christina Westfall, full-time computer technician at SES and Tina Lucci, a part-time one-to-one instructional assistant at SES.

Several new hires received approval, including Austin Lewis, of Northampton, as a part-time health and physical education teacher at SMS and Nathan Thompson, of Allentown, as a part-time long-term substitute ESL teacher at SMS.

Valerie Ackerman, of Allentown, April Ziegler, of Macungie and Drake Pristash, of Walnutport will be hired as building substitutes at SMS. Kaleigh Bobeck and Carrie Ballek, of Allentown, as well as Preston Kucsan, of Whitehall, will be brought on to fill building substitute vacancies at the elementary school.

Updates to the coaching staff include Alexander Nicholas, of Allentown, as the middle school wrestling coach and Devon Alder, of Allentown, as a volunteer wrestling coach. One staff member will be recalled, Matthew Ritter, of Allentown, as a 12-month computer technician at SES.

Superintendent Lynn Fuini-Hetten delivered the leadership team report, updating the board about expected staffing challenges in the face of the return to physical school, which will phase students in beginning Jan. 26.

Since an updated survey was sent out, results showed the elementary school will lose six professional staff, two support staff and there will be eight unfilled instructional assistant positions.

Instructional assistants are high on the list of concerns, since they serve diverse groups of learners and cover other critical school functions in the course of a day. At the middle school, there is an anticipated loss of three professional staff and six support staff and at the high school, a loss of two professional staff and two instructional assistant staff.

The district is actively advertising to fill positions vacated during the course of the pandemic.

FILE PHOTO Salisbury Township School District Superintendent Lynn Fuini-Hetten updates the board on staffing preparing for the students' return to school.