Westmont Hilltop school board again selects Gleason to lead, approves feasibility study
December 9 – JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Robert Gleason has been selected again by his fellow principals to chair the Westmont Hilltop School District board at Thursday’s restructuring meeting.
“I want to thank you all for re-electing me as CEO,” he said afterwards. “We have a great team here.”
Gleason noted that the group has worked hard over the past year to “make a lot of things happen,” but that there is still work to be done.
Board Member Rebecca Webb, who was in attendance virtually, was re-elected Vice President of the Board.
During Thursday’s regular meeting, the group discussed a request for payment of no more than $15,560 to KTH Architects for a feasibility study.
Board member Kamal Gella questioned the expenses and what the property was.
Superintendent Thomas Mitchell said he could not publicly announce the location because it could hamper future negotiations. He told Gella that the board is reviewing potential properties outside of the district’s holdings that could become classrooms, office space, or be acquired for other uses.
Gella opposed the spending, arguing that the board did not need to spend the money on the study.
Gleason said he sided with Mitchell, adding that the district’s elementary school was running out of space to house students. He said the building needs at least four more classrooms, and that can quickly become expensive, so the group is evaluating their options.
Despite Gella’s protests, the motion to continue the study passed 8-1, being the only dissenting vote.
Additionally, following the impassioned testimony of board member Jeffrey Masterson, the board unanimously added and passed a resolution to contact members of Upper Woodmont Group and ask them to drop their lawsuit seeking to stop the construction of a proposed cell tower on the property to block the school district.
Masterson told the story of how his garage on Woodmont Road, near the high school, burned down last month and his house nearly went down. Faulty wiring was to blame. Masterson, his family, and their pets escaped the fire, but the home suffered severe smoke damage.
He told members he was grateful his wife was able to call 911 despite patchy coverage, and stressed the importance of installing the cell tower on the high school’s Fair Oaks Drive campus.
The matter has been embroiled in a lawsuit with the Upper Woodmont Group for years over the location of the structure.
The Westmont School Board approved retaining a law firm to counter the civic group in September, but Gleason said Thursday the prosecution was ultimately dropped because the attorneys and district heads didn’t share the same vision.
Gleason hopes that this correspondence, along with Masterson’s testimony, will change the minds of the group’s members.