Steel Valley decides not to raise lunch costs

| Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Lunch prices at Steel Valley School District will not increase in the 2014-2015 school year.

School directors removed the motion to raise elementary lunches by 15 cents and middle and high school lunches by 25 cents from their regular meeting agenda on Thursday.

“I hope the motion never comes back,” school director Beth Cannon said. “(Parents) will be very pleased that it's not another added expense.”

The cost for elementary lunches remains at $1.75, and $2 for middle and high school meals.

“I'm sure our parents will appreciate that,” Superintendent Ed Wehrer said. “We always like more revenue and less expenses. That's just how life is, but at the same time we try to be fair to our families and our taxpayers.”

Students who qualify for reduced price meals pay 30 cents at the elementary level and 40 cents at the middle and high school, according to last year's figures.

District business manager John Zenone said at a workshop on Monday that the increase could have netted $12,000 and help offset increased food costs and other expenses.

School directors voted 6-0-1 to adopt a revised interscholastic athletics policy. Cannon abstained for personal reasons. School directors Thomas Olson and Susan Ballas were absent.

The policy states all interscholastic coaching positions, except for fall sports, will be opened in the 2014-2015 school year “for the purpose of evaluating past performances, and for hiring the most qualified individual available for that specific coaching position.”

District officials decided to exclude fall sports because related activities already started. Those coaching positions will be opened at the end of the season.

After this initial evaluation and hiring procedure, each coaching position will be automatically reopened every three years.

Incumbent coaches are not required to resubmit an application for their positions, “and shall be automatically considered for the coaching position along with all other applicants,” the policy read.

Resident Kathy Ligeros questioned why the board would consider opening the winter and spring coaching positions at the start of the upcoming year instead of waiting until after their seasons.

“They have chosen how the policy's worded,” Wehrer replied.

“We don't want our coaches to get complacent,” school director Donald Bajus said after the meeting. “We just want to see what's out there. That's all. It's nothing against any of our coaches.”

School directors reserve the right to remove any coach at any time for any reason that the board deems appropriate, according to the policy.

The district's boys varsity soccer coach is entering his first year at Steel Valley, and the boys basketball coach is entering his second. All other coaches have at least two seasons under their belts.

Steel Valley athletic director and girls basketball coach Shawn McCallister said he was not consulted in the policy's development.

The board approved the creation of an Act 93 food service director as an 11-month position operating between Aug. 1 and June 30.

Its salary has a maximum of $40,000 plus benefits. No one was hired for that position on Thursday.

The board approved the creation of seven professional teaching positions for the 2014-2015 school year. The half positions are part-time.

Positions include a half librarian, half world languages/English as a second language, two special education positions, half secondary science, two and a half elementary positions, and one reading specialist.

Wehrer said a plethora of factors will be considered when filling those positions, including staff currently performing those duties part time and teachers on the 2011 furlough list.

Steel Valley furloughed at least 40 teachers in 2011 because of financial issues. Some of those teachers have retired, and others took jobs elsewhere since then. Wehrer said six people remain on that list.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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