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Everett reviews audit, state testing scores

The Everett Area School District finished the past fiscal year with more revenue than expenses.

Brad Koontz, a certified public accountant with the Bedford-based firm Ritchey, Ritchey and Koontz, updated the district’s school board on the 2018-19 audit during the board’s meeting Monday night.

The district had $21.04 million in revenue for the year — about $550,000 more than its expenses.

The district last June had budgeted for an approximate $294,000 deficit — about $20.05 million in revenue and $20.4 million in expenses.

“Like most districts, you try to budget your revenues a little lower than expected, and expenditures a little higher to be conservative,” Koontz said. “I think we did well compared to the budget.”

The district had a fund balance of $2.9 million as of June 30. Koontz noted the district transferred about $643,000 from the fund balance to its capital projects fund during the year. The capital projects fund was at $4.2 million on June 30.

“We’re satisfied with the budget,” Superintendent Danny Webb said after the meeting.

“Our expenditures were very close to our expected expenditures. The budget was right on track with what was projected,” Webb said.

Koontz said while there was a surplus in revenue, the total was in line with a balanced spending plan.

“When you talk about a $21 million budget, percentage wise, it’s within reason of where you should be with a budget that size,” he said.

Local sources, including real estate taxes, accounted for $8.97 million of revenues, while state sources totaled $11.18 million and federal funding was at about $893,000.

The school board also was updated on the district’s state testing scores from the past year. Assistant Superintendent Jim Hollis and Justin Hillegas, elementary school principal, provided the presentation.

Hollis and Hillegas went through the scores students in grades 3 through 8 had in the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment testing.

Hollis said the scores were generally above other districts in the state that are similar demographically based on the number of students in historically underperforming groups, including students in special education and those who receive free or reduced lunch.

“There are three groups, two of which we have in our district,” Hollis said. “There are special education students and free and reduced lunch students. They historically perform lower on the state tests than the average student.”

Hollis said 61 percent of students in Everett received free or reduced lunch in 2018-19, compared to 50 percent across Bedford County and 44 percent statewide.

In Everett, 59% of students in grades 3 through 8 were proficient or advanced in English, below the 63% statewide average. Everett was above the 44% average in districts with similar demographics.

In math, 40 percent of Everett students in elementary and middle schools were proficient or advanced, compared to 45 percent statewide. About 27 percent were proficient or advanced in similar demographic districts.

Everett was above the state average in science, with 73% proficient or advanced compared to the 70 percent.

For the Keystone Exams in the high school, Everett finished above the state averages in literature, but were below the state averages in biology and math.

—In algebra 1, students were below the state average of about 63% with 51%.

—In biology, students were below the state average of about 63% with 60%.

—In literature, students exceeded the state average of 71.5% with 76%.


Gazette Photo/Paul Rowan Parts of Bedford County experienced dense fog Monday morning. Here, the fog shrouds the Chestnut Ridge Middle School. 

Parts of Bedford County experienced dense fog Monday morning. Here, the fog shrouds the Chestnut Ridge Middle School.


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Bedford Area discusses policy, course updates

The Bedford Area School District will look to approve some policy updates as well some potential class additions for the 2020-2021 school year at its voting meeting next week.

Assistant Superintendent Paul Ruhlman reviewed a policy update with the board at its agenda setting meeting Monday that would deal specifically with its members.

He explained that the policy addresses some of what happens when a board member resigns midway through a term and some of the aspects of when a replacement gets elected.

“It basically says if a person resigns in the last two years of their term, the person has to go through an election as long as the election occurs before the (November) election,” Ruhlman said.

He added that the district’s solicitor needs to clarify some things as he and Superintendent Allen Sell were still unclear on some things, including on how a person ends up in a primary election.

The board will also be voting on two half credit classes.

Fitness training would look to replace weight training and cardio fitness. This is due to the fact that the new weight equipment is all in one room now, and two classes are not needed.

The second class would be technology services. This would compensate the student technology team with credit for the work they do.

The board will also vote to approve:

—Moving Kayley Twigg from Step 8 to Step 9 on the bachelor’s scale, retroactive to her date of hire.

“I had analyzed Mrs. Twigg’s resume and ascertained that she be placed on Step 8 based on her years of experience as a certified teacher in Pennsylvania but having looked at where she was on Northern Bedford’s scale and having looked at what her duties were in previous jobs, I made a mistake,” Sell said. “There was a job on there where she was in a position of needing a certificate to be hired and she should’ve been on Step 9 so I’m asking that we make that correction.”

—The maternity leave for Mrs. Beth Toner, beginning approximately Jan. 30, and returning to work approximately April 20, utilizing paid and FMLA.

—The addition of Dr. Stephanie Itle-Clark, 432 S. Juliana St., Bedford, to the list of Pennsylvania certified substitute teachers for the Bedford Area School District for the 2019-2020 school year. She is certified in elementary education and mid-level English.

—The resignations of Elyse Murphy and Joanne Bortz from the General Elementary Committee.

—The resignation of Kevin Steele from all conditioning coach/assistant conditioning coach positions.

—Dustin Bellinger as a volunteer for the Mock Trial team, pending receipt of all required paperwork.


ksmolen / Gazette Photo/ Katie Smolen 

Crew members from the Bedford Fire Department work to clear a tree out of the roadway in the area of Juliana Street and Simpson Street in Bedford Borough after it was damaged by an accident early Monday evening. Gazette Photo/ Katie Smolen


Local
Top of the Morning

Group is organizing bus trip to March for Life.

Bedford County Citizens Concerned for Human Life is organizing two Bollman buses to the 47th annual March for Life in Washington D.C., on Jan. 24. The buses will depart from Walmart at 9 a.m. The cost is $20 per adult and $10 per student. Participants should bring a lunch and wear or have warm clothes for the trip. The buses will stop at Golden Corral for dinner. Reservations can be made by calling 652-6755.

Historical society seeking nominations.

Bedford County Historical Society is seeking nominations for “Historian of the Year” for 2019. The nominee will be honored at the annual banquet on April 25 at the Hall at Kinton’s Knob. The nominee should be any resident or group of Bedford County or member of the Historical Society of Bedford County. Nominees must have been involved in 2019 with the history of Bedford County through research, restoration, writing, collection, preservation, etc. It may be a cumulative work over a period of years, but it needs to have been finished, accomplished, or completed in 2019. Submit nominations in the form of a letter or essay stating why the nominee is worthy of the honor. Send nominations no later than Jan. 31 care of “Historian of the Year” Committee, Bedford County Historical Society, 6441 Lincoln Highway, Bedford, PA 15522.

All Bedford County farmers are invited to attend a Stop the Bleed class this month.

The class focuses on triage for farming accidents. The Chestnut Ridge Ambulance Association will host the free class on Thursday, Jan. 16, at the Alum Bank Fire Hall. There are two classes available — 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Both classes cover the same material. Call 839-2774 to register.


Local
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Changes in medical services at jail underway

The Bedford County Correctional Facility’s transition to a new health care provider is going smoothly, according to county officials.

Warden Troy Nelson during the county prison board meeting on Monday said the Dr. Shawn McGlaughlin of Evangelical Community Hospital in Mifflin County visited the jail last week to meet with administrators and the jail’s nursing staff.

McGlaughlin is the jail’s new medical director. Nelson said he is in charge of seven county correctional facilities.

“He’s very experienced and very knowledgable,” Nelson said. “He met with

us last week, met with our nursing staff, so everything is underway as far as the medical department is concerned. All the inmates are receiving as they should be at this point.”

Evangelical Medical Services took over as the jail’s health care provider Jan. 6 after the Hyndman Area Health Center opted out of the contract because they center was spending more money at the jail than what the county paid for services.

Hyndman Health CEO Bill Kurtycz in November told the county that spending to mitigate the risk to the inmates has cost the health center more than $100,000 in losses in 2019.

The county had been in a contract with the Hyndman Health Center since October 2018. It had contracted with Harrisburg-based Primecare since 1998, about two years after the jail opened.

The county retained the entire medical staff that had been working at the jail under the Hyndman Area Health Center.

Nelson did say the jail would allow Fisher’s Pharmacy of Bedford to make a proposal to fill the jail’s pharmacy needs, which are currently handled by Diamond Pharmacy of Indiana County.

The cost for pharmacy services is based on the jail’s top 50 most prescribed medications. Nelson said Jennifer Leibfreid, an owner of Fisher’s Pharmacy, will make her proposal in March after the jail has had time to adjust its formula under a new doctor.

“At this point, it would be impossible for her to bid on anything, just for the mere fact that we have a new doctor coming in and he’s going to be prescribing different medications than Hyndman Health Care or Primecare did,” he said.

Nelson said the jail spends between $230,000 and $240,000 annually on pharmacy services.

The prison board reorganized for the year during the meeting, with new Sheriff Wayne Emerick joining the board, replacing former Sheriff Charwin Reichelderfer.

District Attorney Lesley Childers-Potts was appointed by the board to serve as chairwoman. Emerick will serve as vice chairman.

The board meets quarterly through the year. It’s next meeting will be in March.


Politics
AP featured
US sends home nearly two dozen Saudi cadets after shooting

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. sent home 21 Saudi military students following an investigation into a deadly

shooting last month by one of their fellow trainees at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, an attack that Attorney General William Barr said was an act of terrorism driven by some of the same motivations of the Sept. 11 plot.

The trainees who were removed had jihadist or anti-American sentiments on social media pages or had “contact with child pornography,” including in internet chat rooms, officials said.

None is accused of having had advance knowledge of the shooting or helped the 21-year-old gunman carry it out.

The Justice Department reviewed whether any of the trainees should face charges, but concluded that the conduct did not meet the standards for federal prosecution, Barr said.

The Dec. 6 shooting at the base in Pensacola in which Saudi Air Force officer Mohammed Alshamrani killed three U.S. sailors and injured eight other people focused public attention on the presence of foreign students in American military training programs and exposed shortcomings in the screening of cadets. Monday’s resolution singled out misconduct by individual students but also allows for continued training of pilots from Saudi Arabia, an important ally in the Middle East.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gave complete and total support for our counter-terrorism investigation, and ordered all Saudi trainees to fully cooperate,” Barr said. “This assistance was critical to helping the FBI determine whether anyone assisted the shooter in the attack.”

Barr said the kingdom has agreed to review the conduct of all 21 to see if they should face military discipline and to send back anyone the U.S. later determines should face charges.

Separately, the attorney general on Monday asked Apple to help extract data from two iPhones that belonged to the gunman, including one that authorities say Alshamrani damaged with a bullet after being confronted by law enforcement.

Law enforcement officials left no doubt that Alshamrani was motivated by jihadist ideology, saying he visited a New York City memorial to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and posted anti-American and anti-Israeli messages on social media just two hours before the shooting. Last Sept. 11, Barr said, Alshamrani posted a message that said “the countdown has started.”

Officials had earlier said that Alshamrani hosted a party before the shooting, where he and others watched videos of mass shootings. Alshamrani, who also traveled back and forth between Saudi Arabia and the U.S., was undergoing flight training at Pensacola, where foreign military members routinely receive instruction.

On the morning of Dec. 6, the gunman walked into a building on the grounds of the Navy base and shot his victims “in cold blood” as Marines who heard the gunfire from outside yanked a fire extinguisher off the wall and rushed to confront him. He was ultimately killed by a sheriff’s deputy during the rampage.

The gunman shot at a photo of President Donald Trump and another former U.S. president and witnesses reported he was making statements “critical of American military actions overseas” during the attack, FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said.

The December shooting raised questions about how well international military students are screened before they attend training at American bases. Some lawmakers, including a top Republican ally of Trump, have called for Saudi Arabia to be suspended from the American military training program.

Trump called for the program to be reviewed. But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the program needed to be reevaluated after the attack.

National security adviser Robert O’Brien said Sunday in an interview on Fox News that the shooting “showed that there had been errors in the way that we vetted” the students. The actions being taken by the Justice Department and Defense Department to remove the Saudi students are to “protect our service men and women,” he said.

The Pentagon has done a broad review of the vetting process for international students, and officials have said they are likely to increase the Defense Department’s role in the screening.

Navy Capt. Brook DeWalt, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday that Defense Secretary Mark Esper has the results of the vetting review and the department will release appropriate information in the near future.

Twelve of the trainees who were removed were assigned to the base in Pensacola and nine others were assigned to Air Force bases in the U.S., including in Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma, a senior Justice Department official said. The trainees were all removed from the U.S. on a Saudi government aircraft on Monday, the official said.

Of the 21 sent home, 17 had social media containing jihadi or anti-American content. Fifteen had some kind of contact with child pornography. One of the trainees had possessed over 100 images of child pornography and had searched for the material but the U.S. attorney’s office determined there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant federal prosecution.

In a statement, the Saudi embassy called the shooter a “disturbed and radicalized” individual who acted alone and who does not represent the values of Saudi Arabia or the hundreds of thousands of Saudis who have lived and studied in the U.S. over the decades. It said it had cooperated with the investigation and would continue to do so.

“It is worth noting that the military training that the US provides to Saudi military personnel has enabled Saudi soldiers, pilots and sailors to fight along their American counterparts and against our common foes,” the statement said.

Investigators, meanwhile, have been trying to access two of Alshamrami’s devices — an iPhone 7 and an iPhone 5 — but have been unable to access them because the phones are locked and encrypted, according to a letter from the FBI’s general counsel, Dana Boente. The FBI has received a court authorization to search the phones and the devices have been sent to the bureau’s lab in Quantico, Virginia, he said.

The investigation is considered a “high-priority national security matter,” Boente said in the letter.

FBI officials have sought help from other federal agencies and other experts, and investigators have been trying to guess the passwords, but those efforts have been unsuccessful, according to the letter.

Apple said in a statement last week that it has already provided investigators with all the relevant data held by the company and would continue to support the investigators.

While Apple and the FBI have been in discussions over the last week, Apple has not yet told the Justice Department whether the company has the capability of accessing the phones, another senior Justice Department official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.


Local
Deaths

BATZEL, Nancy A., 81, of Raystown Road, Everett, died Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, at UPMC Altoona Hospital. Obituary in Wednesday’s edition. Arrangements by Akers Funeral Home, Everett.

DEREMER, Juanita Ann, 76, of Warren.

LADOUCEUR, Helen L. LaDouceur, 75, of Bedford.

ROADMAN, Margaret A. “Peggy,” 84, of Schellsburg.

SALAZAR, Reverend Robert Glenn, of Frisco, Texas.

STEVENS, John L. “Jack,” 77, of Everett, died Sunday, Jan. 12, at home. Obituary in Wednesday’s edition. Arrangements by Akers Funeral Home, Everett.