BY MICHAEL J. RUDOLF
Wyoming County Press Examiner
The Tunkhannock Area School Board hired Rod Azar as its new football coach on Thursday.
Azar will take over the Tigers team that was led by Frank Berardelli for the past three seasons.
In bringing Azar’s name up for consideration, board member Gerald Grimaud said, “I consider it a privilege to make the motion.”
The vote to hire Azar was 8-0. Board member Martin Migliori was absent.
Azar was an assistant coach for the Tigers last season, and is a Tunkhannock Area alumnus who went on to compete in football and track and field at Columbia University.
This is the second time Azar’s name was brought up for the coaching position.
On Jan. 27, Azar was nominated for the post, but was defeated by a 5-4 vote. At that time, Grimaud, president Rob Parry, Kim Teeters and Bill Weidner voted for Azar, while Migliori, Steve Colley, Mick Cronin, Don Nowels and Lori Bennett opposed him.
The board then voted to offer the job to former King’s College coach Rich Mannello, with the vote exactly the opposite as it was for Azar. However, the following week, Mannello turned down the job, requiring the board to re-advertise it. All previous applicants, including Azar, were eligible to re-apply.
The football coaching job opened when Berardelli resigned following the completion of the 2010 season. Berardelli held the job for three years where the Tigers went a combined 9-21. The Tigers finished 2010 with a 3-7 record.
In another matter, the board answered questions from a resident about some specific budget line items.
Shane Powers wondered about the cost budgeted for vocational education, listed at $1.8 million. She said that was considerably higher than other area school districts.
Parry explained that the comparison might not be equitable because other districts send students to outside vocational schools, while Tunkhannock Area has most of its vocational training in-house. For that reason, he said the cost might be listed in other districts as tuition, rather than vocational education.
Powers also wanted an explanation about how transporting students to extracurricular activities is allocated.
Superintendent Michael Healey explained that such money comes from the extracurricular line item, not from the transportation budget.
The board also got a look at two possible calendars for the 2011-2012 school year. One of them has classes starting on Aug. 31, the Wednesday before Labor Day, while the other has the first day listed as Thursday, Sept. 8.
Healey said the district administration is recommending the pre-Labor Day starting date. He also noted that he has had requests to have no school on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 16, 2012) and Presidents Day (Feb. 20, 2012). If this happens, he said they would probably be used as snow make-up days.
Board members said they would review the two calendars and make a decision in April.
At a Policy Committee meeting following the regular board meeting, there was a discussion on changing a definition in the district’s terroristic threats policy.
Healey said the topic came up following a series of bomb threats in the district last year.
He said the attorney representing the district in those court proceedings recommended that the word “intent” be removed from the definition of a terroristic threat. In other words, it would only matter that a student made a threat and caused a disruption, not whether the student intended to disrupt the school.
“He feels that the intent of the student shouldn’t matter to the board,” Healey said. “The fact that people were terrorized is enough.”
Grimaud, who is also an attorney, said intent is often a key part of the legal process, and the word should be left in.
“You shouldn’t be able to be punished, in this case kicked out of school, without intent,” Grimaud said.
The committee ultimately decided to pass the recommendation to the full board at its April 28 meeting.