Parkland School Board honored 28 students for academic achievement, and one of its own members for legislative advocacy on behalf of all students, during its Tuesday night meeting.
The board also voted to approve debt refinancing that should save the district at least $500,000.
John Vignone, Parkland’s director of business administration, said the current economic environment gives the district an opportunity to refinance at a lower interest rate.
"Last year we took advantage of this and saved approximately $2 million for the district’s taxpayers,” said Vignone. “We were very proud to do that, because as budgets get tighter and more difficult, the more savings we have, the more educational programs we can continue.”
Vignone indicated the savings “should help mitigate the millage impact” when Parkland begins making millions of dollars in upgrades needed at its 11 schools.
On Oct. 17, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association awarded Parkland board member Roberta Marcus with its second Timothy M.Allwein Advocacy Award.
Praise was heaped on Marcus at the school board meeting, as it had been at the Aug. 28 board meeting, when a board member announced Marcus was going to receive that award.
The award recognizes outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of students and public education.
Board vice president Robert Cohen said: “Roberta has set a standard for all of us -- with her integrity, with her advocacy for our youth -- and we are blessed to have someone of Roberta’s caliber serve amongst us.”
Said Marcus: “It is really quite humbling to have received this honor.” She served as president of the school boards association, a Harrisburg-based advocacy group for public education, in 2010.
She has been on Parkland’s board since 1995, where she has served three terms as board president and two terms as vice president.
Board members Lisa Adams and Robert Bold were credited with spearheading the effort to nominate Marcus for the statewide recognition. “This was a no-brainer,” said Adams. “No one deserved this more than Roberta.”
Eleven Parkland High School seniors were recognized by the board for being selected semi-finalists in the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program. They are Tyler Duff, Ajay Gandhi, Roshan Joshi, Aditya Misra, John Pellosie, Mohammad Saeed, Donovan Snyder, Marcus Spiegel, Kaleb Tseo, Ana Veskovic and Joy Wang.
They will compete for Merit Scholarship awards that will be offered in spring.
In addition to recognizing those students, the board honored 17 Parkland students who were named Commended Students in the National Merit Scholarship program, although only a few of them attended the board meeting.
They are Nida Bajwa, Danielle Berman, Dustin Brinker, Brian Dinkelacker, Sayem Imam, James Ko, Erin Korp, Jeffrey Kurtz, Eric Mikitka, Fahim Mobin, Alisha Rege, Camille Roberts, Amanda Schleicher, Harsimran Thind, Adrian Tsou, Jack Walton and Jonatan Yucra.
Parkland superintendent Richard Sniscak praised both the students and their parents, telling proud parents at the meeting that “your support has allowed these students to excel in the classroom. We look forward to hearing great things about each of them in the future.”
After the students were honored, board president Jayne Bartlett said: “Since we have the top scholars here in our midst, it’s probably only appropriate that I tell you that you should go home and do your homework.”