Lackawanna Trail Superintendent: School resource officer an ‘asset’

By Robert Tomkavage -

FACTORYVILLE — Lackawanna Trail Superintendent Matthew Rakauskas believes School Resource Officer Tyler Hinkley, of the Dalton Police Department, has been a great addition to the school district.

“I’d like to thank the board for giving us the opportunity to have a school resource officer,” Rakauskas said during a Board of Education regular meeting Sept. 10. “It’s been great having Officer Hinkley and other members of Dalton Police with us. Having a school resource officer here, in a proactive way, has been excellent. It hasn’t made the jobs of anyone easier; it’s simply made them more efficient.

“He’s been a great asset and has made Lackawanna Trail a safer place to be educated.”

Principal of Student Management Rebekah King added that students in the elementary center have embraced Hinkley.

“They absolutely adore him,” King said. “It’s wonderful to see that kind of positive figure in a lot of their lives.”

Rakauskas is open to receiving informal feedback from parents and students regarding their comfort level with having an armed officer in the buildings every day.

Elementary Center Principal Brian Kearney announced a pep rally was held Friday, Sept. 7 to kick off the R.O.A.R. School-wide Positive Behavior Support Program. Members of the Dalton Police Department were present, and the Lackawanna Trail High School and Junior Lions’ cheerleaders, along with the high school band, performed.

“It’s about bringing everyone together to celebrate the good things we do in our schools,” Kearney said.

Kearney is also interested in bringing the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program back to Lackawanna Trail Elementary for grades five and six.

“We certainly live in a time of the opioid crisis,” Kearney said. “We see an escalation in drug use among adolescents and teenagers, so anything we can put in place to better instruct students is a positive. For fifth and sixth grade, it would cost the district approximately $270 to implement the program.”

Special Education Director Amie Talarico said the district invited representatives from Luzerne County Head Start to attend an Open House at the elementary center, for students in the kindergarten to third-grade level, due to the fact that Luzerne County covers Wyoming County students for Head Start services.

Talarico added the representatives will likely attend conferences in March to give families an opportunity to apply for the program in the fall.

High School Principal Mark Murphy commended Barb Cwikla, of Nutrition Group, for receiving a grant to bring breakfast into the classrooms for seventh and eighth-grade students.

“It’s been really well received by the students,” Murphy said. “Best of all, I feel good that our students are receiving some nutrients before lunch. It’s been a really great program.”

Business Manager Keith Glynn offered advice for individuals having problems with tax bills.

Per Glynn, anyone having tax bill issues in Lackawanna County should contract their tax collector or the district’s business office. Benton Township residents should make their checks payable to the Benton Township tax collector.

By Robert Tomkavage

Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.

Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.