Bethel Park School Board will look to appoint a replacement school board member, but school officials insisted no one could really replace Cynthia Buckley.
Buckley, 67, died Sept. 15 after battling cancer for several months.
“Mrs. Buckley devoted her entire life to children,” said Donna Cook, president of the school board, during its Sept. 25 meeting.
Cook’s voice cracked at times as she described her friend and colleague. Buckley worked for 35 years as a kindergarten and first grade teacher in Bethel Park schools. She received several district and regional teaching awards. In 2008, she was a semifinalist for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year.
Soon after she retired in 2009, she was elected to the school board, where she continued working for children. She was especially interested in helping special needs students and served as Bethel Park’s representative on the Pathfinder School Board.
“She was a very principled and strong person,” said Director Jim Means.
When she set her sights on a particular issue or problem in the schools or community, she worked tirelessly to make it better. Means said her son aptly described her as “a bulldog with a tender heart.”
Buckley previously worked with Bethel Park Community Foundation to establish the Dottie Kennedy Memorial Fund, named in honor of her friend and fellow teacher, who also died of cancer. The fund provided new Bethel Park elementary teachers with $300 stipends to jump-start their classroom libraries.
“Her numerous good deeds, most of them done without any fanfare or recognition, will be missed,” Cook said.
Community Foundation established a new fund in Buckley’s memory. Eventually the money raised will be used to grant scholarships to Bethel Park High School seniors interested in pursuing careers in education.
The board will invite Buckley’s family to a future school board meeting to formally recognize her life. Buckley is survived by her mother, Mary Jane Schaude; her husband, John; three children, Bria, Brian and Asia; and four grandchildren.
The board will accept résumés from residents interested in serving on the board from now until Oct. 3. Candidates should submit a résumé and cover letter to Leonard Corazzi, board secretary.
Corazzi can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by postal mail at 301 Church Road, Bethel Park, PA 15102.
The board will appoint the new member at a special meeting at 6 p.m. Oct. 8.
In other business, the board approved contracts to resurface the high school tennis courts, purchase a rooftop dehumidifier and air-conditioning unit for Independence Middle School, conduct testing of the foundation under the high school track and repair an air-conditioning unit at Memorial Elementary School.
Nagle Athletic Surfaces of East Syracuse, N.Y., will resurface the tennis courts at a cost of $73,430. The company will also conduct bore testing of the high school track for $6,500. The testing is in preparation for a future resurfacing of the track to ensure the foundation is solid.
The district will also pay Standard Air and Lite Corp. of Crafton $18,500 for a new HVAC rooftop unit at IMS. District maintenance workers will install the equipment. Standard Air and Lite will also provide a new compressor to repair the air-conditioning unit at Memorial at a cost of $4,075.
The board also agreed to spend over $100,000 on new Macintosh computers and software to replace older computers. Computers in the music technology labs at the high school and IMS will be replaced as well as computers at the high school digital arts lab.