Nine furloughed, property taxes increased
By Rob Wheary, Staff Writer • firstname.lastname@example.org
MILLERSBURG – After much public debate and pleas from the community to think of the education of the children, Millersburg’s school board passed their 2016-2017 budget and furloughed nine professional employees Monday night.
The 6-2 vote approved the $14,310,175 spending plan called for the loss of 11 employees in the district, including administrator LaReina George, the district’s special education supervisor, the district’s social worker Tonya Hatter and several teachers in specialty classes, such as music, life skills and family and consumer science.
Voting for the budget were board president Mark Rothermel, vice-president Margaret Lebo, and members Ryan Novinger, Scott Roadcap, Morgan Wagner, and Brett White. Donald Harris and Bruce Kance cast the two lone dissenting votes. Member J. Bruce Walter was absent.
Included in the budget is a .6 mills tax increase according to the state tax index, which is expected to produce an extra $205,000 in revenue.
The moves were made, according to the superintendent’s report, so that the district can function efficiently and give primary considered to the effect of the educational program and its impact on the costs of operating the schools.
The furloughs affected instructional employees, temporary professional employees, one administrator, and one staff member, high school secretary Nancy Adams.
Four other teaching positions were reduced by attrition, meaning the staff members either resigned or retired.
The list of those furloughed are as follows: middle school music teacher Kasey Campbell, middle school family and consumer science teacher Jodi Ellis, district social worker Tonya Hatter, supervisor of special education LaReina George, health and physical education teacher Alex Cooke, high school life skills teacher Lacey Cooke, second grade teacher Melissa Schoffstall, middle school counselor Andrew Sneeringer, and high school secretary Nancy Adams.
Each section of furloughs was voted on individually, but in most cases, the vote was 8-1 with Donald Harris casting the lone dissenting vote. For the teaching positions, the vote was 7-2 with Harris and Kance voting no.
In addition to the furloughs, the district realigned their administrative positions and personnel. Changes made included dean of students/athletic director Jeffrey Prouse also becoming the middle school assistant principal, David Shover becoming the principal of both the high school and middle school. Former middle school principal Jennifer Wicht will now serve as the supervisor of special education.
Those administrators whose positions didn’t change included the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment (CIA) Brian Campbell, elementary school principal Michael Lyter, and coordinator of instructional technology Eric Petery.
The motion to realign the position was passed by a 6-3 vote with Harris, Kance and Rothermel voting no, mostly due to a proposed organizational chart.
Under this new chart, created by superintendent Thomas Haupt, the organization falls in this order, board of education, then the superintendent, who will oversee the director of CIA, the supervisor of special education, the coordinator of instructional technology and the business manager. The CIA director will oversee all principals, with the elementary principal handling the transportation services. The business manager will oversee the superintendent of buildings and grounds and contracted food services.
“This is not only a chart that we used in my former school district, it is becoming the accepted norm throughout the state,” Haupt told the board.
“I just think it’s very vague, and there needs to me more work shown to cover every scenario and who would handle it,” board member Wagner said.
Another hot topic of discussion came when approving several motions on the topic of salaries. The board approved several motions at Monday’s meetings concerning salaries for the fall athletic coaches, classified employees — defined as secretaries, custodians, aides, administrative assistants and maintenance employees — and administrators.
After the athletic salary motion was passed, board member Donald Harris raised a fuss over the wording on the others, as the resolution members the administrators and classified employees salaries were frozen at past year’s level, but the athletic coaches are not.
“What is stopping the coaches from coming back two months from now and asking for a raise,” Harris asked. “For those that are here every day, the employees that are the nuts and bolts of this district and running it day-to-day, why can’t they come back for a raise later? Why is that language in there?”
Haupt said that if the district’s human resources committee makes a recommendation to bring the matter to the board, it will be discussed. Harris didn’t accept that, still arguing the point about the language used in the motion. He voted no on two of the three motions, abstaining on the one for the classified employees due to his wife being one of them.
A motion approving the 2016-2017 student-athlete/parent handbook, coaches handbook, and booster club guidelines did not pass due to a 4-4 tie in the vote. Voting yes were Wagner, Lebo, Roadcap and White, while Harris, Kance, Novinger and Rothermel voted no.
With fall sport practices starting soon and the board not meeting again until Aug. 22, Rothermel created an ad hoc committee to discuss the concerns those voting no on the handbook have and gave them the authority to make changes with the board giving final approval on Aug. 22. Rothermel appointed Harris, Kance, Novinger and Wagner to the committee.
Before the vote was taken, district solicitor Frank Carl directed the board to some wording in the booster club guidelines.
The wording states, “Where advertisements are solicited for programs or other publications, the use of advertisers who are typically associated with the sale of alcoholic beverages and/or tobacco products is not permitted.”
“We are getting into a gray area with the expansion of liquor sales coming to Pennsylvania, so I just wanted to make you aware of that wording. It doesn’t have to be taken out, but use some discretion.”