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Cunningham, Pennepacker Retain UPSD Roles
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2023-12-06

            Though the Upper Perkiomen School Board gained four new members, its leadership will remain. Melanie Cunningham and Peg Pennepacker were reelected as the president and vice president, respectively, during Monday's reorganization meeting.

            The members elected Cunningham unanimously. Pennepacker won a 6-3 vote, defeating Keith McCarrick during the 40-minute meeting.

            Red Hill District Judge Maureen Coggins swore in five recently elected members during the reorganization portion of the meeting: Pennepacker, Leah Cianfrani, Elizabeth Fluckey, Sarah Bieber and Trina Schaarschmidt.

            Four days earlier, Schaarschmidt secured the fifth and final seat on the board by defeating fellow Republican Mike Long in a tie-breaking casting of lots in Norristown on Thursday, Nov. 30. Both collected 3,050 votes during last month's General Election.

            Montgomery County officials declared Schaarschmidt, an Upper Hanover resident, the winner after she drew the No. 8 during the casting held in the eighth floor commissioners' meeting room. Lee Soltysiak, the county's chief of clerks, drew the No. 14 for Long, who did not attend the ceremony. The county's voter services certified the victories for all five members earlier Monday.

           After J.P. Prego was elected the temporary president, Cunningham received a re-nomination from Keith McCarrick. No one else was nominated, and Cunningham was approved in a voice vote.

            McCarrick nominated Pennepacker, recently elected to a second four-year term, to continue as a vice president for the third consecutive year. Then Schaarschmidt nominated McCarrick.

            Prego cast the decisive vote for Pennepacker. McCarrick even voted for her.

            Following the leadership vote, Cunningham welcomed the new members and thanked them for trusting her leadership. After the meeting, she expressed excitement about hearing their thoughts and ideas.

            "There are so many things to do," said Cunningham, who identified maintaining a level of academic proficiency, continuing to comply with a Title IX agreement with the U.S. Department of Education and working on the upcoming budget as three board goals.

            Cunningham, who was initially elected to lead the board in December 2020, then returned to the position two years later, described the learning curve for new members as relatively steep. She said the proper management of the district requires dealing with several moving parts.

            "You have to do the homework," Cunningham said after the meeting.

            During the regular portion of the meeting, the members approved an action item to spend up to $74,567 to complete the renovations of the varsity softball field. The upgrades could be completed in time for the start of the 2024 season.

            The members voted to pay a Walnutport company $35,569 to enclose the softball field with 590 feet of galvanized fence and $38,998 to install 25 feet of first base safety netting.

            Tri-Boro Fencing Contractors Inc. will install approximately 370 feet of six-foot high gauge chain link fence – with a double drive gate – and approximately 220 feet of four-foot high of galvanized chain link fence.

            The work will include the implementation of two four inch aluminum 20-foot-high, yellow winged foul poles by Sportfield Specialities. Additionally, the business will furnish and install approximately 100 feet of 25-foot high, black nylon square mesh netting, according to an attachment included with the meeting agenda.

            The board voted to appoint Caroline Rebecca Finacchio to the newly appointed position of Accounts Payable/Tax Clerk. Finacchio previously worked as the district's tax clerk/bookkeeper.

            In other personnel news, the members voted to approve the retirement of Sue Coffey, a second grade teacher at Hereford Elementary, at the end of the current school year. They also accepted the resignations of Ana Goodrich, a custodian, Gail Feather, a cafeteria/playground aide, and Janet Farrington, a paraprofessional.

            "Sue is an awesome teacher," Cunningham said. "We will miss her. I hope she enjoys her retirement."

            The board voted to extend the duties of Thomas Horner, a long-term substitute teacher, through the end of the current school year. It also approved the appointment of Julian Brown, a long term substitute high school math teacher, effective Dec. 11, for a similar period.

            The members also voted to appoint two new support staff employees. Eileen Campbell will work as an administrative assistant to the district's Human Resources Department. Joanna Nguyen will function as a full-time custodian.

            They also voted to add Stephanie Hagenbuch to the staff of Krise Transportation.


 

 

 

 

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