When Hamburg Area School District is looking to fill a vacancy, its superintendent asks two questions.

"I ask 'do we have to replace the position and does it have to look the same'," said Dr. Richard Mextorf, Hamburg Area superintendent.

The district has looked to fill one of the positions of school counselor for over a year and Mextorf decided not to fill that position with another school counselor.

On Oct. 8, Mextorf recommended Kevin McFarland as a home and school visitor at Tilden Elementary at a salary of $51,163 and school directors gave unanimous approval.

"(McFarland) will provide a connection between the school and the family," Mextorf said. "He will visit homes directly. We want to get ahead of any crisis, (such as) food, clothing, electricity in the home, child care."

Tilden Elementary was chosen because it has the highest number of free and reduced lunches in the district.

"We want to be proactive and get to the problems," Mextorf said. "There are families that need support services, but don't know how to get them.

"(Families) are eager to accept support, but handing out business cards (of who to contact) doesn't work."

McFarland, who lives in Hamburg, held a similar position in the Reading School District and is familiar with the Hamburg community and the services available.

"These are good kids. We want to alleviate barriers to learning," Mextorf said. "If a child eats breakfast, has heat in their homes and clean clothes to wear they will do better in school."

In addition to the home and school visitor position, both elementary schools have a counselor and the middle school and high school each have two counselors.

In other news, Mextorf told school directors that discussions are in its infancy between Hamburg Borough and Windsor Township regarding police coverage for the middle school.

Currently, Hamburg Police provide coverage for the high school, which is located in the borough, but state police provide coverage for the middle school which is located nearby but in Windsor Township.

"Hamburg has a proactive mayor and police chief," Mextorf said. "They'd like to work on language to allow coverage of the middle school.

"We have two buildings on the same hill. The state police have served the middle school well, but this makes sense, the whole campus would be supported by the Hamburg Police."

In other news, school directors acknowledged the district's yearly donation of $5,000 to the Hamburg Public Library.

The next meeting of school directors will be on Monday, Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the James A. Gilmartin Community Room.

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