Board wants less hassle for those who volunteer

It takes quite a bit of work to become a volunteer in the Warren County School District.

According to district policy approved earlier this year, volunteers fall into one of two categories. The first is those who will be alone with students for extended periods, such as athletic coaches and overnight chaperones. The other is those who still serve in the schools but are rarely along with students, such as PTO officers and classroom helpers.

All volunteers are required to fill out a volunteer application form and, if they interact with students whether supervised or unsupervised, a valid tuberculosis test is required.

Those volunteers who will be alone with students with no direct supervision face additional requirements. They must have valid Act 34, criminal record check, Act 151, Pennsylvania child abuse history, and FBI clearances. Total cost for the clearances is nearly $50.

The district has held clinics where interested volunteers can undergo TB tests but the process has been cumbersome.

The school board would like to see that aspect of the law changed.

During a committee meeting last week, Board President Arthur Stewart asked “how is it the volunteer policy has blossomed” to the point where “we’re stuck with the TB test. The answer from (Solicitor) Chris (Byham) the law requires it (but) points out in the same breath it is an antiquated law.”

He proposed that the board work with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association in an attempt to change the law.

“It’s just no longer relevant that these tests be conducted,” said Stewart. He said that the policy puts the district in a difficult position with the community and makes the board appear “obstructionist” to volunteer participation.

Referencing an article in a PSBA publication, Board Vice-president Donna Zariczny said that “right now the law does not cover people who have had problems, child predators. It is not addressed in the law.”

A letter will be drafted to support a change in the TB testing requirements of the law.

According to district policy, volunteers are responsible for paying for and obtaining any required clearances or immunizations unless a specific program’s budget allows for reimbursement.

Volunteers must be approved by the school board, or, in cases of emergency, the superintendent.