‘Thank you for everything’

The Warren County school board said farewell to some long-time employees on Monday and hopes to do the same to some trees, sooner rather than later.

Seven retirees — Debra Brown, John Bonavita, Kathy Bowley, Barb Kersey, Mary Ann Mead, Donna Shagla, and Terry Stanko — attended Monday’s personnel committee meeting.

Bonavita, 27 years as teacher, guidance counselor, and coach, was asked by the board to speak first. “The school district is really where I found myself,” he said. “My calling was to be with the kids. It was really a worthwhile experience.”

“It was really a pleasure teaching the children,” Bowley, a music teacher for almost 29 years, said. “I will miss the children so much. Thank you for everything.”

“I’ve done this for about 22-and-a-half years,” Mead said. “I started out as a guidance counselor, then went into administration. I never thought that I would have this much fun in a career and grow this much as a person.”

“It’s been an honor doing my job,” Stanko, a custodian, said. “I loved it.”

Brown spent 14 years as a custodian all over the district and Shagla worked in the cafeteria at Eisenhower for 30 years.

Kersey’s 33-and-a-half years as an art teacher topped the list.

“I taught in almost every elementary school in the district,” she said. “I will miss the kids.”

“We understand that nothing happens good with the district without excellent people out there,” board member Arthur Stewart said. “Thank you for your many years of service.”

“I want to thank you for the roles that you play in the school district,” Superintendent Amy Stewart said.

“Thank you for all your hard work over the years,” Board President Donna Zariczny said. “It was nice to have you all as part of our staff and I wish you all good retirement.”

Emerald ash borer

The finance committee asked administration to place an item regarding ash trees on the agenda for Friday morning’s special board meeting.

Arthur Stewart said a manager for private landowners who hold about 500,000 have had upwards of 95 percent of white ash trees cut down knowing that emerald ash borer will soon kill those trees and take their value.

The state government has cut about 50 percent of its ash trees.

The Allegheny National Forest is far behind, Stewart said. “The Forest Service’s figure is significantly less than the state figure.”

Stewart said the ANF inventories include ash trees valued at a total of about $100 million.

Under the federal Secure Rural Schools program, 25 percent of timber receipts go to the school districts and counties on which the forest lands are located.

That means the ANF’s ash trees, which are being killed by emerald ash borer, could be worth $25 million to districts and counties, Stewart said.

“There’s a revenue source out there that’s dying,” board member Joe Colosimo said.

The committee asked administration to prepare a letter to the Allegheny National Forest “urging a more rapid response to emerald ash borer, urging that they advance the pace and the scope of the harvesting to avoid the inevitable waste of the white ash trees that are certain to be terminal.”