CLAYSBURG — Claysburg-Kimmel school board made an important hire for its teaching staff Wednesday with members saying they had made a rare find.

The district had some concerns they would be able to find a replacement for retired physics/chemistry teacher Steve Lach, who retired in June after 34 years in education.

Superintendent Darren McLaurin said a colleague commented that it would be hard to find a doubly-certified teacher in two science areas.

The board hired Shawn Cunningham of Hollidaysburg, who had served as a long-term substitute for nearby Williamsburg school district. He was one of two applicants for the position.

Board member Jeremy Knott noted that often those who have those kinds of teaching credentials — both chemistry and physics certification — teach at the college level. He said with some levity that landing Cunningham was comparable to finding a “purple unicorn.”

Cunningham graduated from Penn State in 2005 with bachelors in political science and history and then added a bachelor in elementary and kindergarten education in 2010.

“We were excited when we got the application and more excited when we met the person,” McLaurin said of Cunningham.

Cunningham is a graduate of Tussey Mountain High School. He lives in Hollidaysburg with his wife, Laura, and their two children, Lucy and Benjamin.

Cunningham’s salary will be $44,500.

McLaurin commented on the newly-passed law that allows schools to replace snow days with at-home instruction. The superintendent said he thinks the new flexible instruction law signed by Gov. Tom Wolf last week could allow the district some flexibility.

The law, signed July 2, allows districts to opt for at-home learning in a sort of cyber school alternative.

McLaurin said he sat in on a recent webinar in which York School District’s superintendent addressed the flexible instructional day.

“It’s something we’re definitely going to give a look at it,” he said. Officials from the district and the union will have to discuss how it might work.

The law allows the snow days option for up to five days.

The option would be beneficial in saving critical days on the school calendar. For example, the board was a little concerned during last school year early in the spring as snow days were edging the district to having to move graduation, which is traditionally on Sunday — June 2 this year. The district, fortunately, was able to avoid having to delay graduation to get in required school days.

McLaurin said Claysburg-Kimmel is a “1-to-1” district in which all students have access to an iPad on which they can do school assignments at home. There are glitches, he said.

One of those is the younger students aren’t permitted to take their iPads home. Another problem might be the possibility that some students don’t have internet access. That’s something officials will address, he said.

The state law codifies a pilot program in the state among private and public schools.

McLaurin said it will be up to the school board whether its members want to go ahead with a plan for optional instruction.

“I like the idea,” McLarin said. “I think it has great potential. It has a lot of details that need to be worked out.”

Contact Elizabeth Coyle at; 623-1151, ext. 105.

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