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UNITED: School board eliminates facilities positions

by on July 01, 2014 10:55 AM

EAST WHEATFIELD TOWNSHIP — In a restructuring move amid substantial financial challenges facing the district, the United school board on Monday eliminated two facilities positions that will save the district approximately $87,000 annually starting with the 2015-16 school year.

In a unanimous vote, school directors approved the elimination of the facilities coordinator and assistant facilities coordinator positions effective June 30 and created the position of supervisor of maintenance. Board member Robert Lichtenfels was absent.

Edward Sutter, who was the district’s facilities coordinator for 24 years, was terminated Monday, with an approved paid leave of absence from June 16 through 30. Assistant facilities coordinator Clay E. Skedel was transferred to the new position effective today at an annual salary of $48,177.05, contingent upon the successful completion of a 120-day probationary period.

The reason for the supervisor position, board President Don Davis said following the meeting, is that the district will now have one person doing all the jobs required by the facilities and assistant facilities coordinator positions, and the job description had to be revised.

Davis, in a statement, referred to economic challenges reflected by the need for a 2.4 mill tax increase and borrowing $1.2 million from the district fund balance for the 2013-14 school year, and the 1.7 mill increase and borrowing $1.1 million from the fund balance in 2014-15. He said the board “looked at all available options to reduce expenditures rather than raise taxes to raise revenue.”

Davis said the district will save approximately $50,000 in the 2014-15 school year with the position eliminations, which were factored into the budget passed June 10.

“We’re looking everywhere we can to try to economize,” Davis said.

Also Monday, the board hired four instructors and a nurse aide.

Andrew Davis was hired to replace Randy Rearick as a high school biology teacher at $41,600; Kristen Fisher and Tyler Stokes were hired as special education instructors with initial assignments at the elementary school at $41,000 and $40,000, respectively, to replace retirees Patricia Sexton and Marilyn Nesmith; and Chanie Spearing will serve as an elementary education instructor at $40,000.

Davis said it was unclear which position Spearing will take, but with the resignation of Mark Weakland as a Title I Reading Specialist effective Aug. 25, which the board accepted Monday, “we’re going to need someone to replace him.”

“We’ll post that as per contract with the staff, and we’re not sure where those dominoes will fall. Ms. Spearing might be in that position; she might be in another elementary position,” he said.

The board hired Michele Fletcher as a nurse aide at $13.48 per hour.

Jill Barbus, who served previously in that position, decided to go back to her former position, which was building secretary/paraprofessional health room aide, Davis said.

Fletcher, an LPN, is “highly qualified,” Davis said, and will be assigned at either the high school or elementary under the direct supervision of school nurse Lori Kovach.

Directors accepted an offer from the state Department of Transportation for $80,600 for its acquisition of land from the district and damages payable to the district related to proposed improvements to State Route 56 and Township Road T-470.

PennDOT is going to realign the highway running past the schools and try to make the entrance to the schools safer as well as take about 12 feet off the rise in the hill, Davis said. The department also is going to line up Shellbark Road with the elementary school entrance.

“It’s always been a dangerous spot” with traffic coming up over the hill into a school zone “with not much warning,” he said.

To do the realignment, Davis said, PennDOT is going to take away approximately 5 acres of land from the district, resulting in the payment negotiation.

Additionally, the board granted a slope easement to Highridge Water Authority for $1 “for goodwill,” Davis said, for the relocation of a water-pumping station to accommodate PennDOT’s Route 56 relocation project. The easement measures 0.018 acres.

In other business, directors voted to:

• Approve the managed technology services contract renewal between the district and ARIN Intermediate Unit 28. The contract renewal is effective beginning Oct. 1 through June 30, 2020, with the cost breakdown, according to Joshua Muscatello, ARIN’s coordinator of technology and media services, as follows: $133,000 for the first year, which begins Oct. 1; $139,675 for the second year; $146,685 in the third year; $154,047 for the fourth year; $161,778 for year five; and $169,898 for the final year.

• Approve an agreement between Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 and United at $10,545 per school year for participation in the Microsoft Server Product Purchasing Group for 2014-15 and 2015-16, utilizing budget funds.

• Approved the student accident insurance renewal proposal with Bollinger Inc. for an annual athletic premium of $18,191 for 2014-15.

• Approved Matt Rodkey as head junior high girls’ basketball coach for $2,682.04 and Tyler Capitosti as head junior high wrestling coach for $2,762.47.

• Approved Roseann Fahnestock, Michael Richards, Leroy Piper, Justin Rummel and Denise Crusan as substitute bus/van drivers for 2014-15; and Brenda Antonio, Jennifer Blough, Kathleen Rose, Nancy Wolfe and John Varner as bus drivers for 2014-15.

Heather Carlson is the wire editor and an assistant web editor for The Indiana Gazette. She covers courts, Saltsburg and Homer City borough councils and Penns Manor and United school districts, in addition to writing feature articles. She can be reached at
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