It's been four months since school board members in Peters delayed a decision about the fate of their nationally renowned high school dance team, and parents and students are getting fed up.
At issue, some say, is how a minority faction of the board has been able to hold up appointments for the team for several months.
Specifically, the board has declined to vote on whether team sponsor Barb Deliere should continue in that role. Although high school principal Lori Pavlik recommended Ms. Deliere continue as sponsor, the request was removed from the board's May agenda without explanation. Other dance coaches and sponsorship positions for other sports were approved at that meeting without discussion.
"I think there may be a personal vendetta" among board members, Ms. Deliere said. "How could there not be?"
Ms. Deliere, a high school Spanish teacher who founded the team eight years ago with her daughter and the team's head coach, Dominique Schuster, said she has never heard a complaint or concern about her performance.
In fact, dozens of parents and dance team members who have faithfully attended school board meetings this summer -- including Monday's school board meeting -- said Ms. Deliere is universally admired for her dedication, which resulted in an undefeated season and a team that won a national championship in February. The team appeared on ESPN television network.
Two assistant coaches also support her and have refused to take over Ms. Deliere's job when the board requested it.
"There was never a complaint to the board, there was never a complaint to the coaches and there was never a complaint to the principal, to the best of my knowledge," said Denise Abraham, mother of one of the dancers.
Many of the 27 team members flooded board meetings this summer, with T-shirts expressing support for Ms. Deliere, and many addressed the board. Some left meetings in tears, saying they couldn't understand the board's lack of action.
For now, Ms. Pavlik is serving as interim sponsor while the team practices. The uncertainty of the team's future has seriously impacted students, Ms. Schuster said.
"We've been practicing since May," Ms. Schuster said. "It affected camp this summer and it's been a huge distraction."
The board has said little, citing confidentiality in a personnel matter. Superintendent Jeannine French said the district is reviewing the team's policies and should be able to make a decision soon.
"There is no investigation of an employee," said Ms. French, who was hired in June and added that she is still somewhat unfamiliar with ongoing issues in the district.
Ordinarily, there would have been little fanfare to Ms. Deliere being reappointed to the position, which pays an annual stipend of $1,346 and involves organizing the team's activities around high school schedules. The stipend does not "come close" to covering all of the money Ms. Deliere personally spends to help the girls, a family member said. Ms. Deliere has never requested an increase in the stipend.
The removal of her name from the May agenda drew the ire of some board members, who said a minority faction improperly -- and "with malice" -- removed Ms. Deliere's name from the agenda before the meeting.
Ms. Abraham, a former school board president, said the same tactic was used in recent years by some board members to discourage a high school band sponsor from reapplying for that position. It worked.
Ms. Abraham hopes Ms. Deliere continues to fight for the job she loved doing, especially because she feels the sponsor's personal reputation is at stake.
"We've been coming since June, respectfully asking the board to expedite a decision," she said. "The girls have so much respect for Barb."
"They just stall and stall and stall," said Cindy Hofbauer, a dancer's mother, who said she was disgusted with the process.
Also Monday, the board hired Adam Swinchock as the district's new director of instructional technology, at an annual salary of $70,000. Mr. Swinchock comes from the Jefferson-Morgan School District, where he has been the technology coordinator since 2005.
He also has served as technology coordinator with the Greene County Career and Technology Center and the Greene County Industrial Development Authority.
Mr. Swinchock has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Washington and Jefferson College.
The board also heard a presentation from Mike Brazil, permit agent for Geokinetics, a Houston seismic testing firm.
Mr. Brazil said his company is testing the Marcellus Shale layer for local drilling company EQT, which owns gas well drilling leases in the eastern part of the township.
The company wants to place several small sensors called "geo-phones" on the eastern border of the Bower Hill Elementary School property. The sensors would pick up vibrations from nearby "thumper" trucks.
The 47,000-pound vehicles use a 7,000-pound steel plate to pound the ground, causing vibration that underground data sensors use to chart rock formations -- such as Marcellus Shale -- deep in the earth.
The district owns 19 acres at the site and has no plans to lease the property for gas well or other drilling. The sensors would be placed atop the ground for about three weeks, starting in late December. The district would be paid $5 an acre, or $95.45 for the permit.
Though there will be no drilling on the property, Mr. Brazil said the company would like to map it to get a better idea of the thickness and location of the Marcellus layer on nearby properties, which are under lease with EQT.
"We're right down the street," Mr. Brazil said of leases. "We're right behind you. All around you."
The board is expected to take up the request at its Oct. 21 regular meeting.
Janice Crompton: email@example.com or 412-851-1867.