SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - Joanne F. Hartranft, who is retiring after 61 years with Parkland School District, was honored by the school board Tuesday night.
"That's certainly a Parkland record and may be one for the record books well beyond Parkland," said district superintendent Richard Sniscak.
He called Hartranft a role model for dedication, professionalism, hard work and loyalty.
"They say in sports that records are set to be broken," said Sniscak.
"I'm going to go out on a limb tonight and say no one is going to touch Joanne's record for employment and loyalty to Parkland School District for many years to come. That's going to be tough to break. I don't know if I'll ever see it."
Hartranft graduated from Parkland High School in June 1952 and began working for the school district two months later, when she was 17 years old.
For almost all of her career in the district, she was secretary to the principal at Parkland High School.
"I'll take it one step further," said Sniscak. "She's worked for every principal at Parkland High School." He said that included him, when he became the high school's principal in 2001.
Hartranft held the same position at the high school for 59 years. In November 2012, she became front desk receptionist in the district's Administrative Center.
"She has done a remarkable job," said Sniscak. "She has gracefully managed change due in large part to her great sense of humor and quick wit.
"She is unique in her spirit and her incredible dedication to this organization for the past 61 years. Parkland is a better place due to her incredible service."
Hartranft will retire May 2.
She was presented with a gift-wrapped watch and received a standing ovation from the board and audience for her more than six decades of service to the district.
Admiring the watch, she said: "Now I'll be able to come to work the next two weeks on time."
"Has she been late?" asked board president Robert Marcus, who presented the watch.
"Never!" replied Sniscak.
Marcus said she also believes 61 years is "unparalleled in terms of someone being able to provide loyalty and personal fortitude to any organization, particularly a school district."
She said Hartranft is held in high respect and "we are, with sincere regret, accepting her letter of retirement."
Two champion student-athletes also were recognized by the school
board: senior wrestler Nezar Haddad and sophomore swimmer Siena Salvaggio.
Haddad won a silver medal in the PIAA AAA-class state wrestling tournament, said Sniscak. He said Salvaggio is a two-time silver medal winner in the PIAA AAA-class state swimming competition.
Other appointments and retirements
The board approved promoting Robert L. Holmes, Jr., from assistant principal to principal at Ironton Elementary School. He will replace Lynette Smith, who will be retiring at the end of this school year.
Holmes' annual salary will be $100,000.
Holmes has been at Parkland since 1997. He taught English in Parkland High for eight years, then became dean of students at Springhouse Middle School in 2005. He was hired as assistant principal at Springhouse in 2006 and twice served as acting principal at that school. This year he is working as an assistant principal at various Parkland elementary schools.
Courtney L. Kuklentz has been hired as coordinator of special education at the elementary and middle schools, at an annual salary of $82,000. She currently is a special education teacher in Easton Area School District. She will replace Louise Fick, who is retiring.
Scott J. Levan was named head varsity golf coach at Parkland High School. He replaces 37-year Parkland teacher and coach John Mondschein, who is retiring. Levan has been on the Parkland High School staff for 34 years. He is a health and physical education instructor. He also has been head coach for track and field, chess coach, Scholastic Scrimmage advisor, fitness coach, head football coach, stage crew assistant and guitar club advisor.
Esmir Becirovic has been hired as senior network administrator, at an annual salary of $70,000. He now is a technician at Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School. He will replace Thomas Cierlitsky, who moved to another position.
Becirovic, Kuklentz and Holmes were at the school board meeting and applauded after they were appointed. The superintendent welcomed Kuklentz and Becirovic "to the Parkland administrative family."
Another long-time Parkland employee also is so retiring: Deborah A.
Trumbauer, administrative assistant at the Troxell Building. She has worked for the district for 29 years. Her retirement will begin Aug.
Winter spurs waiver request
In other business, the school board agreed to seek a waiver from the state Department of Education to allow the 2013-14 school year to consist of a minimum of 990 hours of instruction at the secondary level and 900 hours at the elementary level "as the equivalent of 180 school days."
Sniscak explained the waiver is needed because 12th grade students at Parkland High won't achieve the 180-day requirement before graduation day "due to the large amount of snow days we've had in this terrible winter." But he said those students will meet the 990 hours requirement.
Board member David Kennedy asked if it's possible the district's request for a waiver will be denied by the state "and, if so, what are the ramifications of that?"
Atty. C. Steven Miller, the board solicitor, replied: "Anything's possible, but it's not going to be denied. This is like a rubber stamp. We've had conversations with the appropriate people involved and it's going to go through.
Marcus added the state does not want to punish high school students because of the winter.
"There are 500 school districts in Pennsylvania," said Miller. "It's not just us."
Elaborating after the board meeting, Sniscak said; "You have to have
180 days of school and 990 hours at the secondary level. We'll meet the 990-hour requirement." He added school hours did not have to be extended to meet that 990-hour requirement.
"Our day starts at 7:45 a.m. and we go till 2:56 p.m.," explained the superintendent. "That's later than most schools."
Parkland seniors will graduate June 9 at Lehigh University's Stabler Arena.
He said the last day of school for all other students in the district
will be June 20. "We were supposed to finish June 13. So we had an
extra five days of make up."
The board also approved a 138-page special education plan for the district that will be submitted to the state Department of Education for approval on May 1. The department requires that such a plan be submitted every three years. The district serves more than 1,400 students with special needs.
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