Keystone hires acting superintendent

Patrick Gavin

KNOX - The Keystone School Board Feb. 15 gave its retroactive formal approval to the hiring of Patrick Gavin as acting district superintendent.

The agreement calls for Gavin to be paid $475 per day while the board looks for a permanent replacement for former superintendent Shawn Algoe who resigned in January to pursue employment in the private sector.

Gavin retired as superintendent of Oil City schools in July of 2018. Gavin, a 1975 graduate of Venango Christian High School who, upon returning to the region earlier in his career, also served as assistant principal at Cranberry High School.

Gavin's hiring was retroactive to Feb. 1.

"I've been here about two weeks and I want to thank you for this opportunity," Gavin told the board. "I've been in a few classrooms and I was out this morning (Feb. 15) and got a look at some of the roads we're using."

At Oil City School District, Gavin was assistant superintendent to Joe Carrio, who is now superintendent at Clarion Area School District.

Meanwhile the Keystone School continues its search for Algoe's long-term replacement.

The board met in executive session following the Feb. 15 meeting to discuss potential candidates for the job.

Snow days vs. remote instruction

Meeting during a winter storm warning, board member Dwayne Van Tassel asked why the district was still calling "snow days" when remote instruction for most students is now possible.

Van Tassel said when snow days are called, it includes canceling all after-school and evening extra-curricular events, often after snowfall has stopped and the roads have been cleared.

"Why aren't snow days virtual days?" asked Van Tassel. "Why develop these tools (for remote instruction) and still have snow days?"

High school principal Brad Wagner addressed the question.

"There's just no replacement for face-to-face instruction," said Wagner. "Mr. Algoe decided we want our kids in school and we (administrators) still believe that."

Board member Greg Barrett said the switch from snow days to short-notice remote instruction might be a future policy.

"We're still learning what works," said Barrett. "When we get back to ‘regular,' maybe snow days can be virtual days."

Board member Trisha Dixon said it would be unreasonable to expect teachers to be able to make a short-notice switch from snow days to virtual days.

"They have their lesson plans drawn up a week or two at a time," said Dixon. "They really can't just make that change that quick."

Board president John Slagle agreed, adding, "We can't call our teachers at five or six in the morning and tell them they have to put everything for that day online."

Slagle continued, "We're going to need a compromise. We want as much in-person (instruction) as possible and with virtual, we're going to have to find a way to fill in the gaps."

Van Tassel concluded, "We have to be honest we didn't do well by the kids last March when we didn't require them to finish their assignments."