PENNSBURY >> The Pennsbury School Board is zeroing in on a finalist in its search for a new superintendent of schools.
At its March meeting, board member TR Kannan updated the community on the board’s efforts to find a replacement for Dr. William Gretzula who will be retiring from the district effective June 30, 2021.
“The board has been busy,” said Kannan. “All nine of us have met five times since the last board meeting. On Feb. 23 we met to short list the candidates. There was good interest in the position,” he said.
After narrowing the field, Kannan said the board held its first round of interviews - a Meet and Greet - over a two day period on March 1 and 2.
“We short-listed further and the second round was held March 15,” he said. “We have a good final round of candidates ... And we will introduce the finalist to the community soon, hopefully.”
Kannan did not say how many candidates responded or how many are on the district’s short list.
He did say that almost every candidate “was intrigued by the district’s work on equity” issues. “More than one person highlighted the presentation Dr. Gibson did recently. And not only the work, but that we were not afraid to show what is going on and that we are acting on it.
“Social and emotional learning was another common theme,” said Kannan. “Almost everyone was passionate about it.
“They also talked about communication vehicles,” said Kannan. “Many talked about how they have been communicating using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And having town halls in the community. All of that impressed the board.”
The district began its search for a superintendent at the beginning of the year, partnering with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit to lead the process.
In January, district residents were encouraged to take a survey sharing their thoughts and ideas on the type of person they would like to see at the helm of the district.
Gretzula announced his impending retirement at the school board’s September meeting. His retirement was subsequently accepted - with regret - by the school board.
Gretzula, the former superintendent of the Bensalem Township School District and curriculum coordinator for the Upper Darby School District, was hired by the school board in May 2016 and began his new job as Pennsbury’s superintendent of schools in July 2016. He replaced Dr. Kevin McHugh who retired at the end of the 2015-16 school year.
Gretzula is in the second year of a four and a half year contract with the district, which extended to June 30, 2023.
In other business at its March meeting, the board accepted the upcoming retirements of longtime district educator Isabel Latch and Ann Langtry, the district’s Supervisor of Communication Strategies.
Latch, who was hired by the district in 1985, will retire in June. Langtry, who joined the Pennsbury administrative team in 2007, will retire on July 30.
The board also voted to approve an Eagle Scout project that proposes to construct a Gaga ball pit at the Edgewood Elementary School.
The $885 pit will be built by Noah Mclaughlin and will provide a place to play a fun game, get exercise and learn social skills and fair play. He plans on building the game pit in April through funding provided by the Edgewood PTO.
Gaga is a variant of dodgeball that is played in a gaga "pit.” The game combines dodging, striking, running and jumping with the objective of being the last person standing.
The board also approved the donation of $26,333 from the Pennsbury Baseball Parents Club for the purchase of a new scoreboard for the varsity baseball field.
The purchase will be made through the BuyBoard national cooperative purchasing program and is contingent upon the donation of funds in advance of the district’s commitment of resources.
The Varsity Baseball Spectrum Scoreboard is 18 years old and was repaired two years ago. K&J Accessories, the same company that installed the original scoreboard, will supply and install the replacement.
The board also approved a grant from Mikayla's Voice to offer an assembly and a Wheel of Friendship Inclusive Art Project at no cost to the District for the 2020-21 school year. The grant also provides the district with two sets of three children's books to be shared among the schools.
The assembly and programming will deliver approaches to support inclusion, promote kindness and build friendships. The first assembly took place virtually at the Pennwood Middle School on March 12.
The board also approved the purchase of two Scraper Systems from Stokes Equipment under a COSTARS contract in the amount of $61,255.40.
The portable devices, with power height adjusters, will be placed at Charles Boehm Middle School and on the west side of the high school. Equipped with a deep-V plow blade, they can be used to remove snow and ice from the rooftops of school buses, vans and box trucks during and after accumulating snow and ice events.
The system will provide the district with a safer way of removing snow and ice from the tops of its buses.
When it snows, employees use shovels with extension poles to push the snow off the rooftops. The poles, however, only reach three quarters of the way across the roof, leaving the center of the rooftops full of snow. The snow then turns to ice, leaving the dangerous possibility of snow and ice flying off the rooftops and landing on other vehicles and on the highway and potentially causing damage and injury.