Northeastern schools grapple with renovations, student support program

Meredith Willse
York Dispatch

Northeastern school officials continue to grapple with issues associated with the high school renovation and uncertain funding surrounding a student mental health program.

An incident over the winter led officials to conduct a thermal scan of the building, which revealed that insulation was "not staying in place or missing completely."

Brian Geller, the district's director of operations, said at the time the district conducted the scan on the renovation, the exterior work had not been completed. He added that the general contractor, Lobar, has since repaired areas with missing insulation at its own expense. 

“I just want to publicly say thank you to Lobar for addressing this matter,” Geller said. 

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As part of the school's due diligence, Board President Mike Redding suggested repeating the nearly $5,000 thermal scan of the areas to ensure the work was completed. 

Board Vice President Tyler Kramlick pointed out insulation fell in some areas, so it may be a worthwhile investment to see if there are similar issues still happening. 

“It’ll be cost savings well beyond $4,800,” he said.

School Board President K. Mike Redding during the Northeastern School District Board of School Directors work session at Northeastern School District Administrative Center in Manchester, Monday, March 6, 2023. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The board voted to add a second thermal scan to the next meeting agenda.   

Counseling services: The board also listened to the district’s two student support specialists, Charles Dittrich in the high school and Emma Melhorn in the middle school, about the need for counseling services. School officials tabled their contracts at the previous meeting because members wanted to hear reports about their impact on the students before deciding how to proceed.

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Student representative Grace Reik, who ins't a voting member of the board but attends the meetings, said the student support specialists program is essential.

“Having a place like this in the high school, a place like that in the middle school, I wish I had that growing up,” she said. 

Kramlick asked the board how it could create a position that stays for the long-run after grant funding for these support positions ends in September 2024. 

“We obviously know mental health is something that we have to continue to look at and address,” he said. 

School Board Vice President Tyler Kramlick during the Northeastern School District Board of School Directors work session at Northeastern School District Administrative Center in Manchester, Monday, March 6, 2023. Dawn J. Sagert photo

On top of this, Kramlick reminded the board members, leadership is changing — there will be a new superintendent starting next school year and a new assistant superintendent after January.

Seven of the board positions will also be up for grabs in the upcoming election, including three seats without an incumbent running.

“We need more support,” Kramlick said. “We have resources and funding, how do we get it beyond next year?”

Budget 'headwinds': Kramlick asked how these two positions have different job descriptions when they should be the same job. Dittrich said they are tailored to the needs of each building. 

Before these positions were created, students saw guidance counselors, Dittrich answered. 

The Northeastern School District Administrative Center in Manchester, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Redding warned: "The headwinds are strong against our budget.”

He added he was going to keep this matter tabled and refer it to the finance and personnel meeting to discuss if the district should continue these two positions or if these two staff members train the staff to continue. 

“I’m looking at where we’re going next,” Redding said, adding the board talks a lot about “getting to kids sooner.”

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'The problem with grants': Redding said he was looking at where the board should go next and find the best solution because there are a lot of needs. He added there are a lot of needs at elementary school age. 

Melhorn pointed out middle school is when mental health problems really surface. 

Treasurer Vanessa Snell said it's a great program, but the board has other pressing matters to address. 

“That’s the problem with grants: They end,” she said.

Redding added he doesn't want to increase taxes for these positions when the funding ends. 

“How do we keep this going without creating new positions?” He asked, explaining the board has a long list of needs and needs to decide what rises to the top. 

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After some more discussion, the board decided to put the issue back on the next agenda, after the finance and personnel meeting. 

Kramlick said there will be a more clear picture for the board to decide at the next board meeting. 

Superintendent search: In other news, the board officially voted to use Templeton LLC for the superintendent search. In the previous meeting, it decided to use Templeton over PSBA. Information on the search, including surveys, will be available through the district’s website. 

The next board meeting is April 17 at 41 Harding Street, Manchester. It can be watched in person or on the district's YouTube channel at

— Reach Meredith Willse at or on Twitter at @MeredithWillse.