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Chester County Press

Split vote keeps U-CF School Board seat unfilled

06/18/2014 11:05AM ● By Acl

By Carla Lucas


After three rounds of voting at the June 16 Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board meeting, the selection of a new candidate to fill the vacant board seat was tabled until July 14. In a  separate action, Shawn Dutkiewicz was unanimously approved as the new principal for Chadds Ford Elementary School. The school board also unanimously approved a final budget and the millage rates that include a tax increase for the 2014-15 school year. 

The process to fill the board seat vacated by Eileen Bushlow began with the announcement that three of the four candidates who were interviewed at the June 9 work session could be nominated for the position. In the last week, one candidate, Arnie Klingenberg, withdrew his application. The three remaining candidates are Hsinte Yen, Robert Sage, and Bennett Baird, and all three were nominated by various members of the board.

Board president Victor Dupuis announced that one candidate must receive at least five votes from the eight remaining board members to fill the vacated seat. In the first round of voting, Baird received two votes and Yen and Sage each received three votes. In the second round of voting between Yen and Sage, each received four votes. 

Dupuis called for a third round of voting, which concluded with the same result, four votes for Yen and four votes for Sage. He then tabled the matter until a July 14 school board meeting, where all three candidates—Baird, Yen, and Sage—will once again be considered for the vacancy.

“These positions should be elected (by the public),” commented Dupuis after the third vote. “It is uncomfortable to be electing a peer. All three candidates are well-qualified. We will make another attempt next month. I appreciate everyone's patience.” Dupuis apologized to the three candidates that the board couldn't reach a decision. 

Pennsylvania law states that a board has 30 days to fill any vacancy. If it does not do so, a petition from at least 10 constituents can be filed with the Common Pleas Court and a judge will make the appointment of the new board member. 

After an extensive search for a new principal that began with 58 applicants, Shawn Dutkiewicz was formally hired and welcomed as the new principal for Chadds Ford Elementary School. Jeff Hellrung, the chairman of the Personnel Committee, said the candidate rose to the top with superior leadership and experience and he is extremely excited that Dutkiewicz is joining the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District. 

Dutkiewicz served as the principal at Pennell Elementary School in the Penn Delco School District for the last seven years. Prior to becoming principal, he was the district's K-6 math and science curriculum coordinator. 

Keith Knauss, chairman of the Finance Committee, introduced the motion to approve the district's $75,986,081 final budget for the 2014-15 school year. The board unanimously approved the motion. Properties in Chester County will be taxed at 26.44 mills, an increase of 2.76 percent over last year. Properties in Delaware County will be taxed at 22.20 mills, an increase of 2.26 percent over last year. He commented these tax increases were set in motion when the board approved the teachers' contract a year and a half ago.

Kathleen Do, the curriculum committee chair, previewed for the board the new high school graduation requirements they will be asked to adopt at the August board meeting. The changes are required as Pennsylvania adopts its own Common Core standards and will not participate in the national standards.

The Unionville High School (UHS) Class of 2017 (rising tenth-graders) will be required to pass Keystone tests in Algebra, Biology and Literature. Most should pass the tests by the end of their sophomore year. If not, they will be given supplemental instruction and have multiple opportunities to re-take the test. For the Class of 2019, passing a Composition Keystone test will be added to the requirements. For the Class of 2020, passing an additional Civics and Government test will be added to the requirements. For students who cannot pass the tests, an in-depth graduation project could be completed.

Other business unanimously approved at the meeting included the following:

~ Withdrawing from the National School Lunch Program at UHS only.

~ The approval of field trip requests for the Spanish Exchange trip (14 days, will miss five days of school), the UHS Girls' Lacrosse Team to the American Lacrosse Camp during spring break in 2015, and the Charles F. Patton Middle School trip to Quebec City in February 2015. The UHS International Club's proposed trip to India in the summer of 2015 was approved with the provision that the club could come back with an alternate plan in August if participation was too low to go on the India trip next summer.

~ The district's goals for the 2014-15 school year.

~ Funds to repair UHS's cafeteria floor at an estimated cost of $82,000.

~ Funds for professional architectural services in the amount of $309,000 for Patton Middle School design work.

~ Approving the purchase of district photocopiers with Ricoh at a cost of $12,988.48 per month.

Ann Schott, a 30-year social studies teacher at UHS, was honored for her service as she retires from the district. UHS Principal Paula Massanari said, “There was always a culture of learning in her classes. There was a hum. You could feel the learning going on.” 

Grace Frunzi, a special education teacher at Pocopson Elementary School, was honored by the district as the winner of this year's Citadel Heart of Learning at the elementary school level. 

During the public comment session, a representative of the Unionville Music Parents Association brought an issue with the roof in the new auditorium at UHS to the board's attention. “Rain disrupts the acoustic integrity of the space,” she said. “(The performance) is drowned out by a rainstorm. This is unacceptable. There has to have been a construction problem.” The board turned the issue over to its facilities manager to investigate further.

The next meeting of the Unionville Chadds Ford School District Board of Education is July 14, at 6:30 p.m. in the District Office.