School board acts on smaller finance items

PAT FRIDGEN

The deficit spending for the Greencastle-Antrim School District in 2010-11 meant some requests had to be denied at the April 15 school board meeting. The board approved a preliminary budget with spending outpacing income over $1.5 million, despite nearly $700,000 in cuts from general fund expenses.

A request for compensated professional leave for Mary Lou Pool was denied. Superintendent C. Gregory Hoover said teachers were allowed to request a sabbatical after they had worked in the district at least 10 years, and then every seven years. Pool is completing her counseling degree and would have interned at the primary school for one semester.

A teacher taking a sabbatical was eligible for 50 percent pay during the leave. Business manager Richard Lipella said the net cost to the district, if an entry level substitute teacher was hired, was $17,000, and that was not in the budget.

Board member Joel Fridgen commented on the situation, "Personally, I'm concerned. I understand it's worthwhile, but we're looking at other cuts. It's bad timing."

President Arnie Jansen agreed, especially since other people had made salary sacrifices for next year. (See mill increase story)

Howard Ritchey supported the leave request, but Fridgen, Jansen, Paul Politis, William Thorne, Kristy Faulkner, Brian Hissong and Eric Holtzman voted no. Mike Shindle was absent.

The board authorized the food services department to join a Franklin County consortium for better prices on smaller items, both food and supplies. The department already makes larger bulk purchases through a Pittsburgh consortium.

The board also supported a resolution urging legislative action on school employee pension reform. The Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement System had voted to increase school district contributions to 8.2 percent in the fall, and peak at 33.60 percent in 2014-15. The resolution said the projected increases placed a financial burden on taxpayers.

Ritchey was granted permission to attend the Legislative Advocacy Conference in Harrisburg April 25 and 26, with $488 reimbursable for registration, hotel and mileage. Lipella said the expense was included in this year's budget.

Three staff resignations were accepted: Ronald Powers, high school assistant principal, retiring on June 30 after 14 years in the district; Karen Hermann, district tax officer, retiring June 30 with 26 years of service; and Martha Fuchs, high school music teacher for the last three years.