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Linglestown Gazette: CD board drops pay hikes from agenda

Monday, August 06, 2012

CD board drops pay hikes from agenda

Here's a blow-by-blow account of Monday night's Central Dauphin School Board meeting that was attended by about 30 members of the public, three TV news crews and Patriot-News reporter Mary Klaus. Ms. Erin Grady was the only absent board member.

Two minutes into the meeting the night's big issue - a proposed 2-percent pay hike for the district's 76 administrators - was taken off the agenda. The board did not offer insights into the issue that received significant media coverage prior to the meeting.

Later in the meeting, the board unanimously voted to hire Dr. Norman J. Miller as the district's Assistant Superintendent for Academic Operations. His hiring is conditioned on a written, four-year employment agreement being finalized. Miller has held a similar position in the Altoona school district.

During PUBLIC COMMENTS, Eric Epstein discussed the lack of comments by board members during board meetings. And Ryan Traynor commented on the proposed pay hikes, saying the proposal would have been a backdoor maneuver because the salary increases were not included in the 2012-13 budget process that concluded in June.

I updated the board on plans to start a citizens' group called CD Watch. The goals of the group would be (1) to have citizens attend all public meetings and file reports on the group's website, (2) to create a place for open discussion about district affairs and (3) to educate the citizens about all aspects of the district and issues before the school board.

I also called for the board to start holding non-voting, public workshop meetings to give the public opportunities to hear the board discuss issues.

Board President Ford Thomas then said workshop sessions would be held prior to regular meetings starting in September.

Under UNFINISHED BUSINESS, the board unanimously approved an employment agreement to expand the business manager post held by Karen McConnell. Her new title is Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Administration. The agreement runs through June 2017 and her salary was not disclosed.

Before voting, board members Chris Judd, Brian Faleshock and Jay Wenger expressed appreciation for the service McConnell has provided to the district.

"Recognition [for McConnell] is overdue but justified," said Wenger, who works with school districts and counties throughout the state.

Thompson said if there's a finer business manager in Pennsylvania he'd like to know about it.

Under NEW BUSINESS, McConnell corrected information published in today's Patriot-News about the financial status of the district. She said the district is coming out of the gate knowing that projected expenses exceed projected revenues by about $5.5 million for the 2013-14 budget, not the $10 million reported in the newspaper. She added that this is a typical situation for this time of year.

As part of the treasurer's report, McConnell said the district currently has over $23 million in the bank.

The board heard a presentation on a proposal to revamp and increase fees for groups to use school district facilities. This issue could be finalized at the Aug. 20 board meeting.

Regarding the fees, Todd Love, head of the CD Area Basketball Association, said the proposed policy would negatively impact his group by increasing expenses by $20,000-$25,000 per year. The association works with 500-550 kids.

Lastly, the board voted to hire a sports facility company at a cost of $44,100 to oversee planning and bidding for major improvements at Landis Field, the district's sports stadium.

The estimated costs of improvements are $515,350 for turf field and track repairs, $550,000 for bleacher repairs and $400,000 to upgrade the stadium lighting.

If the board approves all or some of the repairs, the costs would come from the district's capital-improvement fund, not the budget approved by the board every June.

Thompson said the stadium is an important resource for the district and delaying improvements could lead to the stadium being unusable sometime in the future. The light standards were erected in the 1970s and other repairs have come due, he said.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:24 pm.
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CLICK HERE for a report from The Patriot-News that focuses on the proposed pay hikes and other salary issues.

CLICK HERE for story from WGAL that includes quotes by me and  Lower Paxton resident and community activist Eric Epstein.

Next school board meeting will be held Monday, August 20.

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