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Melanie Cunningham to Lead UPSD Board as President
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Melanie Cunningham was unanimously elected president of the Upper Perkiomen School Board during Monday's reorganization meeting. Judith Maginnis will serve as the vice president.

           "I felt it was time," Cunningham wrote in an email message received Wednesday morning. "I was ready to be board president."

            Dana Hispzer also accepted an appointment to represent the district on the Western Montgomery County Technical Career Center's Joint Operating Committee. His three-year term runs through December 2023.

            Prior to gaveling the regular meeting to order Cunningham – whose current four-year term expires next year – thanked her predecessors, Kerry Drake and Raeann Hofkin, along with former Vice President Mike Elliot, for their leadership.

            "I think we're going to have a good year," said Cunningham, who was nominated by Hofkin to lead the board. "Let's get this thing started."

            As board president, Cunningham hopes to continue its transparency with the community, staff, parents and students; maintain strong committees where the member delve into the details, proceed with a plan to implement full-day kindergarten and continuing to review of the district's facilities and curriculum.

            "We have a lot of hard work ahead of us," Cunningham wrote.

            Elliot served as vice president for the last three years. Drake led the board for most of the same period. Hofkin was elected board president 12 months ago. However the members removed her in June due to their displeasure with a Facebook post earlier in the year.

            Maginnis was installed as vice president following an 8-1 vote. Hofkin opposed the motion.

            The board also approved some exterior improvements at Marlborough Elementary. It will spend $147,952 to purchase and install new playground equipment.

            The total project cost includes the demolition of the existing playground equipment, the purchase of a new playset and two swing sets. All site work will include code-compliant safety surfacing, according to the action item language.

            The school's Parents and Teachers For Students organization is contributing $20,000 towards the cost of the project. The balance will be funded by Marlborough student activity account funds and the district's capital reserve funds.

            Elliot extolled the playground repair as the kind of problem-solving actions the board should be taking on a regular basis. He described it as a useful model.

           "I'm really excited about this," Elliot said. "What we're doing is seeing problems and taking care of this. This is the way the board is supposed to work."

            Additionally, the members approved spending $40,450 to remove approximately 36 dead ash and pine trees and their stumps. Peg Pennepacker commended the efforts of Douglas Kenwood, the district's director of facilities and operations, on his due diligence related to the improvements at the school.

            "Doug really dug deep," the member said.

            In other news, the board voted to approve a measure to transfer $5 million from the general fund to the district's Capital Reserve Account in the amount of $5,000,000. According to Business Administrator Sandra Kassel, the money could be used to support the district's participation in an energy/operating cost reduction program under the guideline of the Pennsylvania Guaranteed Energy Savings Act or to help facilitate conversion to full-day kindergarten.

            In personnel news, the members voted to accept the retirement of Kyra Wadsworth, effective Dec. 18. The board also accepted the resignations of Jaimie Hummel, a paraprofessional, effective Nov. 16 and Heidi Lechman, a cafeteria/playground aide, effective Nov. 19.

            The board also approved the appointment of Stephanie Ruane, as a second-grade teacher at Marlborough Elementary, for the remainder of the current school year beginning Dec. 8. They also voted to hire Joseph Wagner, a full-time custodian, effective Dec. 14, at a rate of $12.50 per hour.





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