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Tuscarora School Board considers part-time, full-time principal changes

Parents of students at Mercersburg Elementary want to keep their full-time principal

June 10, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — A proposal to rid Mercersburg Elementary School of a full-time principal drew dozens of parents to a Tuscarora School Board meeting held at the school Monday night.

At issue is a plan to divide Mercersburg Elementary School Principal Lura Hanks’ time between her current school and Montgomery Elementary School.

That would free up Brett Kagarise, who currently serves as principal of two schools, Montgomery and  Mountain View Elementary School, to serve full time at Mountain View.

With four school board members absent, board President Cliff Smith said the vote would be delayed until a meeting at 7:30 p.m. on June 18 at the school.

Some parents argued the decision is being made too quickly and predicted the new setup would fail.

“Let it soak in and ask yourself if this is what you still want to be talking about six months down the road,” parent Ryan Bennett said.

“I didn’t take this lightly. I didn’t come up with this on a whim,” Schools Superintendent Charles Prijatelj said.

School officials described the plan as an opportunity to better align the district’s four elementary schools. They said St. Thomas Elementary School has a significant population of special-needs students, and Mountain View Elementary School has a higher percentage of families identified as low income by the federal government.

Montgomery and Mercersburg elementary schools do not have the same socioeconomic challenges, Prijatelj said.

“I had to look at what is best for all the students in the entire district,” he said.

Quentin McDowell and other parents expressed concerns the move could chase Hanks out of the district.

“I, for one, am not going to encourage you to take a risk with my child’s education,” McDowell said.

Parents who want Hanks to remain full time reiterated to the school board that Mountain View and Montgomery elementary schools recently made “adequate yearly progress” as determined by the state, whereas Mercersburg Elementary School did not.

Smith said Hanks established a leadership team that can manage the school when she is not physically in it.

“She’s going to continue to lead this building and the folks here,” he said.

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