It was an item toward the end of the agenda but one that will bring some quiet to an already tough school year.
At their regular meeting on September 28, the Jeff Tech Operating Committee approved an agreement with the school’s teacher’s union to extend the current contract for an additional year.
The pact would have run out in June of 2021, but school director Dr. Barry Fillman said with all the upheaval caused by the pandemic, having that extra year for negotiations will keep from adding to an already stressful school year.
“There are just too many unknowns right now,” he said.
The extension will continue all the current terms and conditions including maintaining the current increments on the salary schedule. It will expire in June of 2022.
Farm to Refrigerator Program
Megan Bundy, Adult Education Coordinator at Jeff Tech, provided the committee with an update on the proposed Farm to Refrigerator movement. First proposed in August, this program would train students for positions in the meat cutting industry.
Bundy said that while there is no shortage of product in this area, which accounts for a $33-million industry within a 50-mile radius of Jeff tech, there is a shortage of processors to work in that industry.
She said her research has been “extremely eye opening to the need that is out there.”
A stakeholder committee has been formed that includes representatives from Elk, Jefferson, and Clearfield counties including those who work in the meat cutting industry, grocery stores, markets, farming, and county government. A petition has been sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry asking that it declare this need for workers a high priority.
Bundy and her team have met with state and local officials to enlist their aide. They also visited the program at Penn State University Park and plan a conference call with representatives of a similar program at the University of Nevada at Reno to get input.
Overall, she said she feels very confident the program can move forward.
Along those lines, the committee approved a motion to hire Amos E. Rudolph to oversee the bid specifications for the Farm to Refrigerator building at the cost of $33,150 with the option to add equipment selection and sp4cifications for an additional $3,250. It also approved a motion to advertise for those bids.
Committee member Sam Armagost of the DuBois Area School District said he would like to visit the Penn State program as well to get an idea of what the school is trying to do. Other committee members also expressed interest. Director Fillman said he would make arrangements.
In his director’s report, Dr. Fillman thanked the faculty and staff at Jeff Tech for their efforts in getting school off to a good start despite all the difficulties caused by the pandemic. He also said that three cosmetology students passed their license exams recently, exams that had to be postponed in the spring due to the shutdown. Those students were Kelsey DeLarme of the Brookville School District and Falisha Hutchins and Emma Horne of the DuBois Area School District.