New Castle News

Schools

June 17, 2014

Frank Aloi Retiring: Ellwood superintendent leaving amid budget woes

NEW CASTLE — Frank Aloi is retiring next month as Ellwood City’s superintendent of schools.

Aloi, a 50-year district employee and its superintendent for nearly 12, submitted his retirement notice to the board during an executive session prior to Thursday’s meeting. His last day is July 16.

His decision follows deliberations by the board and administrators about shortfalls in the 2014-15 budget, which prompted both a tax increase and tapping the district’s reserve fund.

“It was a combination of things,” Aloi said Monday of his decision to leave.

“All budgets are tight now because of the economic conditions and funding in schools. The board did raise taxes and had to look at probably cutting an administrative staff position.

“I struggled with the fact that I’ve been here 50 years and all of our administrators are younger with children,” he continued.

“My family’s grown up. I’d hate to see a young administrator with children lose a job.”

At Aloi’s suggestion, the board eliminated Joseph Mancini’s position of assistant to the superintendent, and has promoted Mancini to interim superintendent for a year. During that time, it will make a decision about the hiring of a superintendent.

The move constitutes a total savings of about $138,000.

Mancini’s wages will increase from $117,000 to $122,000, plus benefits.

Aloi’s salary was $132,000, but he has not accepted health benefits from the district in many years, board member Leroy Cortez said.

“The district has been good to me over 50 years,” Aloi said of his decision. “I felt this would be the best thing to do.”

The district will reorganize the assistant’s duties, which will be shared by several administrators, Cortez said.

The board voted 7-2 Thursday to adopt the 2014-15 spending plan of $26,988,166, a 1.76 percent increase from this year, Aloi said.

The budget comes with a 0.75-mill tax increase, expected to generate about $300,000, Cortez said, and is the most the district can raise taxes under the state index.

He said that in order to balance the budget, the board also had to approve taking $500,000 from its $5.5 million fund balance.

Aloi noted that with the savings from his retirement and eliminating the assistant, the fund balance withdrawal now will be less than $400,000.

“In his retirement, he put the needs of the school district ahead of his own personal needs,” Cortez said of Aloi.

Cortez and George Garda voted against the budget. Voting in favor were Anthony Buzzelli, Michael Neupauer, Jennifer Grossman, Matthew Morella, Kathy Pansera, Renee Pitrella and Robert Stevenson.

“I didn’t like the tax increase or taking money from the fund balance,” Cortez said.

He feels there are other permanent savings the board could have researched, he said, and there was no plan in place to avoid the same problems next year.

Reasons for the budget shortfall are reductions in the state basic education subsidy and increases in district contributions to the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System, Cortez said.

“The district’s contribution (to PSERS) this year is $1.5 million, it goes up to 21 percent next year.”

He noted the board and administration cut a lot of items out of the budget over the past month

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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