Assistant superintendent set to retire from AASD

After more than 40 years in various capacities with the Altoona Area School District, Assistant Superintendent Mary Louise Ray is retiring.

Ray will retire Dec. 1., but she’ll be scarce in the district as of today because she is using accumulated vacation days that will last to December, Superintendent Thomas Otto said.

“She is able to begin the well-deserved use of those vacation days,” Otto said. “She will be in and out, certainly, helping me and the rest of the administrators transition to the various duties that she did. And I would like to express my appreciation for all she’s done for me personally and for the district.”

Ray was absent for the meeting Monday in which the school board unanimously accepted her letter of resignation. Members Cheryl Rupp and Judy Berryman were absent.

The board subsequently approved Luke Lansberry, director of curriculum and assessment, as acting assistant superintendent with no salary change.

“(Ray) met with me at the end of last week, and she submitted her letter of resignation for retirement purposes today,” Otto said on Monday.

She is retiring at a salary of $132,722.

District Community Relations Director Paula Foreman said Ray was dedicated to students throughout her career.

“She has given all her time and energy to the betterment of education. With any decision, students have always been in the forefront for her, and she’s always operated from that position.”

In other actions taken Monday, the school board voted to approve the administration’s recommendation to create a position for a full-time district attendance officer. A part-time officer was initially recommended by the district’s administrative attendance committee in June.

Otto said he felt that the district had a need for a full-time officer.

Sharon Bream was the lone member present to vote against creating the position.

“I am not for a part-time or full-time district attendance position,” she said. “I’m not for expanding the administration at this time. (The duties of an attendance officer) should be handled by people we already have.”

The full-time attendance officer salary would be in the range of $40,000 to $50,000, Otto said.

More than a third of the district’s student population, 3,021 students, had unexcused absences in the 2013-14 school year. The total number of days those students missed without an excuse: 16,054. And 1,358 students’ parents or guardians were served a notice regarding their children’s truancy. More than 420 of those families were prosecuted.