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December 9, 2013

Neshannock school board told to follow the rules

NEW CASTLE — In her first meeting as president, Karen Houk established procedures for the Neshannock Township School Board.

This chain of command, Houk said, will ensure that everyone in the district is treated equally.

“If a parent comes to you with a problem with a teacher, coach, administrator or bus driver,” she said, “We need to direct that person to the person they are having the problem with. If they can’t resolve it, they should proceed to the principal, athletic director, building and grounds superintendent, whoever is in charge. The last place they should go is to us. If we follow this procedure we can ensure that every child is treated equally.”

Houk said she guarantees if anyone comes to her to resolve a dispute, “the first thing I will ask is, ‘Did you follow the chain of command?’”

By doing so, Houk said, the board members will be showing support to their teachers and administrators, “and not trying to overstep our position as a board member.”

Board members also received good news from local auditors Philip Weiner and Co.

Melissa Morosky, district business manager, said the good news was the result of a combination of unexpected revenues and watching expenses.

“For the end of the year, we showed a profit of $670,882,” Morosky said, noting this will be added to the district’s fund balance. That will put the total at $4,517,932.

For the year ending Dec. 31, 2012, the district had revenues of $16,718,390 and expenses of $16,047,508.

Because of Act 32, which resulted in a single tax collector gathering earned income taxes, the district received $350,000 in unanticipated funds.

In addition, real estate tax collections were $110,000 greater than budgeted. This, she said, is because of home additions, building and moving into the township. Also, unanticipated retirements resulted in a $240,000 savings in salary and benefits, and the district saw fewer special education students than anticipated.

“We had a good year,” Morosky said. “The auditor was pleased, had no findings and said all went well.”

Junior high principal Dr. Tracy McCalla told the board that 200 staff members had attended a child abuse training session conducted by Sue Ascione of the Children’s Advocacy Center Oct. 11. Because no fee was charged, she asked the board to consider making a donation to the center.

The board also:

•Accepted the retirement of custodian Walter Bohn, effective Friday. He has been with the district for 21 years.

•Approved Thomas Minto as a full-time custodian, effective Dec. 16. He has been a substitute custodian since 2010.

•Added to the daily substitute list: Kristin DelMonaco, elementary teacher; Nicole Shaughnessy and Christine Mullins, paraprofessionals; and Adam Cvetich, emergency substitute.

•Named P.J. Copple as the board’s Pennsylvania School Boards Association legislative council representative and James McFarland to represent the district on the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center board.

•Established the schedule for budget and finance committee meetings. Copple, the committee chairman, said meetings will be Jan. 23, Feb. 25, March 25 and April 22. All meetings will begin at 7 p.m. He said all board members and the public are welcome. The district’s 2014-15 budget will be introduced in late May.

•Heard a report on special education student costs from pupil services director Concetta Fiorante.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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