By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

The Avon Grove School Board handled the routine business on the agenda in quick order at its Aug. 8 meeting, but this summer has been anything but routine for the school board as it searches for the next superintendent of the district.

The district had already announced that four candidates had moved on to a third round of interviews, but school board president Bonnie Wolff indicated that the search could be close to a successful conclusion.

“We’ll be meeting on Monday {Aug. 12} to make some more decisions,” Wolff said of the superintendent search.

Current superintendent Dr. Gus Massaro will retire when his contract expires on Oct. 31. The board began the superintendent search process in early spring with hopes that a new school leader will be able to take over when Massaro departs.

Part of the search process has been matching the candidates—29 people initially applied for the position—with the themes that were generated through 13 focus-group meetings that took place involving various stakeholders in the district—teachers, support staff, principals, central office administration, students, community leaders, parents, senior citizens, Latino families, and the school board. The board developed a candidate profile based on those themes.

In other business, the school board was not able to agree to a request for a waiver from district policy regarding busing. A couple who are moving into the community requested that the board allow their five-year-old daughter to ride the school bus starting on the first day of school even though the family won't move into the district until Sept. 12. Construction on their new home has been delayed because of frequent rains this summer and the family won't go to settlement on the home in time for the start of the school year.

The district's transportation policy includes regulations for future residents. The school board didn't vote on the waiver request, but the members informally indicated that they preferred not to grant the waiver.

“We ought to stick to the policies that we do have,” said board member William Sites. “If we make an exception now it will be hard not to make an exception the next time and the next time.”

District officials spent considerable time and energy crafting a new policy regarding the clearances that volunteers need to obtain in order to work in the schools.

For most volunteers, three clearances are now needed. Fingerprinting is necessary for the federal criminal history report clearance, and Avon Grove is sponsoring two fingerprinting sessions that will be conducted by representatives from the Chester County Intermediate Unit. They are scheduled on Aug. 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Avon Grove High School cafeteria and on Sept. 24 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Avon Grove Intermediate School cafeteria. Preregistration is required to be fingerprinted. Full details, including an explanation about the clearances that each kind of volunteers needs, are available on the school district's website at www.avongrove.org.